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By Kris Kerzman, Variety contributor, Published September 22 2013

Uptown Gallery offers work from a wide variety of artists

Fargo - Steve Revland remembers a time when downtown Fargo was called “uptown.” It wasn’t meant as a destination, a place where you went. It was more of a direction.

“We would say, ‘We’re going uptown,’ ” Revland said, his voice rising. “We had this feeling that we were on a rise, and the walk there actually increased in elevation.”

Whether that feeling was physical or psychological, Revland said going “uptown” as a kid in Fargo’s 1950s heyday was an event – like going to a circus –with plenty of hustle and bustle.

That sentiment is part of how he chose a name for his new art space, Uptown Gallery, located at 72 Broadway.

With downtown Fargo’s recent heyday renaissance came a growing demand for places for artists to show and sell their work.

“I’ve been wanting to do this for some time,” Revland said. “I was approached by some of my old friends and cronies, artists in my age bracket, and thought, ‘You know, we should have a place to show our work.’ It started as one or two artists and snowballed to 18 artists within a couple of months.”

Their personal connection to Revland aside, artists also seem drawn to the gallery’s approach to displaying their work. Artists lease wall space from the gallery on a monthly basis, paying more for higher-visibility real estate. They can also take part in quarterly events that allow them to refresh their offerings or show new work. Since they lease the space, artists also get to keep a larger-than-average cut from sales.

Artist Deane Colin Fay displays a number of works at Uptown Gallery and is an old hand at gallery entrepreneurship. Fay opened and closed three galleries in his career, and he knows there is no magic formula to making it work. But he trusts Revland, a friend since high school.

“I think this is a good addition to the downtown area, and I’m hoping that Fargo is ripe for something like this.” Fay said.

Joining Revland in management of the gallery is Susanne Williams, who will work as the gallery’s director. She is also moving her line of bags and apparel goods, Willi Nilli, into the gallery and will set up studio space in the back.

“I had been looking for a new location for Willi Nilli because I wanted more sunlight,” Williams said. “We spent some time chatting and (Revland) told me what his vision was and I was really impressed by how this gallery came together. I could see it being a natural progression of my own brand and my own professional development.”

Revland appreciates what Williams’ success with her handbag line will bring to Uptown.

“To have Willi Nilli plugged in here right off the bat – wow, that’s a huge deal for the Uptown,” Revland said.

Contemporary watercolorist Warren Kessler and photographer Dan Francis also display art in the gallery.

While Revland said he had no problem finding artists to fill the walls, he did have some trouble finding a suitable building due to high demand for buildings on Broadway. It also brought him back to those heydays.

“Any spaces that open up, go right away because downtown is hot.”

He pauses.

“Or in my case, uptown is hot.”

This article is part of a content partnership with The Arts Partnership, a nonprofit organization cultivating the arts in Fargo, Moorhead, and West Fargo, and its online publication, ARTSpulse. For more information, visit http://theartspartnership.net/artspulse.