Plum Bottom joins growing list of art spaces in Sturgeon Bay
Plum Bottom Gallery is coming to Sturgeon Bay. The gallery, owned by Chad Luberger and his wife, Angela Olson Luberger, will open its fourth Door County location on Sept. 30 at SWY 231, the former home of the Door County Advocate.
The space was renovated by Shirley Weese Young into a gallery that has been used by artists and musicians on short-term rentals in recent years. Part of the building is used by Third Avenue Playworks and the second floor has apartments.
Chad Luberger, is also an experienced actor. He met Young while he was rehearsing for the play Gutenberg! The Musical! in 2021 and used the gallery for practice.
“I couldn’t help thinking that this was a fantastic gallery space,” Luberger said.
So he called Young out of the blue. She came out to his original Plum Bottom Gallery space near Carlsville and liked what she saw and agreed to lease the space.
Luberger said he has been keeping an eye on Sturgeon Bay for several years.
“The arts community has grown and strengthened here,” he said. The city has the Popelka-Trenchard art studio and gallery, which has been on 2nd Avenue for more than 20 years, Audrey Off’s gallery and framing shop on Third Avenue and the Lockwood Gallery on 1st Avenue. More recently the Sömi Gallery, Two Bridges and The Pearl of Door County have opened on the south end of Third while Articipation, The Hours, and Brendan Pier’s gallery have launched on the westside.
“We are thrilled to welcome the Plum Bottom franchise to Sturgeon Bay,” said Stephanie Trenchard. “The audience for the arts in Sturgeon Bay has been growing steadily in the 25 years that we have been here.”
Margaret Lockwood, who sold Woodwalk Gallery in Egg Harbor eight years ago to move to Sturgeon Bay, said she thinks Plum Bottom coming to Sturgeon Bay is fabulous. Sturgeon Bay is becoming a hot art space, she said.
“Eight years ago when I came here, Jeremy and Stephanie and the AMO Gallery was here, then in the last two or three years we got four more galleries and they just keep coming,” she said.
Luberger described his new location as a gorgeous open space with 12-foot ceilings that will lend itself to the display of large paintings and sculptures. That’s a contrast to the other Plum Bottom locations that are chopped up into smaller rooms, he said.
Sturgeon Bay’s gallery will have a bit more of a contemporary feel, Luberger said.
“What’s exciting about Sturgeon Bay is that it’s more of a year-round community, with perhaps a younger clientele so we can explore some different types of art in this gallery,” Luberger said.
Door County’s art business has grown since Covid, he added.
“More people have moved here and live here year round,” he said. “It is certainly a strong art market up here, strong because of all the talent here which brings people interested in the high level of art. I don’t know anywhere else where you can visit 100 galleries in a small location, except maybe Santa Fe or Cape Cod, but Door County is a unique art market.’
The original Plum Bottom Gallery is located on 20 acres on Plum Bottom Road, a mile north of Carlsville, and displays larger works and outdoor sculpture. Downtown Egg Harbor is a walking location, so smaller items that can be carried easily are popular — sterling jewelry and pottery are popular.
Fish Creek’s gallery is in the former J. Jeffrey Taylor jewelry store location and features fine jewelry and fine glass.
“Sturgeon Bay is a hybrid. We have different artists in each location, and we’ll have more of a contemporary feel in Sturgeon Bay – large canvases will be a big part of what we do – and we are also excited about an expanded fine jewelry collection,” Luberger said.
The north end of Third Avenue is changing. On Deck, the popular clothing store anchors the corner with Jefferson Street. Across the street the stone facade of the old Ace Hardware store is coming down and the building will be home to three retailers. Across Jefferson Street from the Ace property, ground was broken last week for Muse, a music education and performance facility with 11 studio apartments on the second floor.
Plum Bottom will host an opening reception for the new space on Sept. 30 from 3-7 pm. The opening will feature artists Jenna Kast, Ray Zovar, and Sue Pruss, plus catering by Door County Fresh Chefs and wine from Von Stiehl. At 4pm, a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring Sturgeon Bay Mayor David Ward will take place.