Smile Politely

Inside the Outhaus

The Outhaus is located at 709 East Sunnycrest Drive in Urbana. More specifically, it is located in the back yard of this address. The home that also sits on the property is owned by Bert Stabler and Katie Fizdale, who came here from Chicago. Stabler was a high school art teacher who also curated small art shows and wrote for art columns. He is now a PhD student studying art education. Fitzdale has a degree in photography, is the operations manager for the Education Justice Project, and enjoys expressing herself through cooking (which you’ll get to experience if you attend a gallery opening).

Before the Outhaus was a gallery, it was a place for a U of I professor (the previous occupant) to go and write. Since last year, Stalber and Fizdale have been using it as a gallery and have had four showings so far. “It’s something we’ve always wanted. Bert was really involved in alternative space galleries in Chicago, and I was an art advisor. Once we saw this space, a gallery came to mind,” Fizdale said.

Stabler explained, “It’s named after the very famous Bauhaus German art school… and a rock band from the 80s.”

When you go to a gallery opening, you can expect to see great visual art hand-picked by the couple. You can also snack on some homemade munchies, have a drink, and hang out in a cozy back yard, talking about the art with other interested parties.

There is no admission fee. Stabler and Fizdale do all of this because they enjoy providing the space for artists and bringing people together.

Thursday May 21st is the opening for the next exhibition, a collection of work by artists Liz McCarthy and Soo Shin titled “if only a glimpse.” Here is a statement from the artists that can be found on the Outhaus Facebook page:

In “if only a glimpse,” Soo and Liz have collaborated to manifest these fragments into an installation of suspended clay impressions of the artists’ literal grasp of the material. The audience is encouraged to remove these pieces from the intimate space with scissors. The excavation of this space through the removal of these small parts creates path into the room.”

In other words, the artists are going to hang art from the ceilings and you have to cut them down to make a path through the gallery. How interesting!

Stabler and Fizdale’s home is incredibly inviting. Their back yard is large even with a small gallery in it, and it is decorated with a sitting area, plants, and stone walk-ways. The gallery itself is cozy, freshly painted, well-lit and equipped with heating and air conditioning. I am truly looking forward to attending an opening at the Outhaus. 

The opening this Thursday will begin at 5 p.m. The Department of Art Education will be sponsoring the catering for the event, and everyone in invited. Stabler and Fizdale say that the Outhaus is booked up with artists until November, but they encourage artists to inquire about showing via the Outhaus Facebook

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