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New additions to the Mercantile Center
Art Gallery and dance studio to open
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The Gays Mills Mercantile Center is getting busier as two new spaces are now rented. The Arts Collective of the Driftless plans to open their gallery next week in time for Apple Fest. Nikki Dull, owner of 5-6-7-8 Dance, intends to open her new dance studio with a new session of classes by October 10.

The Arts Collective’s first show will feature the works of 12 area artists. The group includes Ken Anderson, Chela  (Sarah B. Mertz), Marlene Meyer, Christine Myhr, Michael Riddet, Karen Riddett, Jeanne Ruchti, Joe Schwarte, Greg Vereschagin, Jeff Adams, Rick Kriebel and William Waite.

The gallery’s grand opening will be held on Friday, Sept. 28 from 6 to 10 p.m. They will remain open for the Apple Fest weekend on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“We will be open full time for now and then probably open half-time for the off season,” said Julia Henley, Recovery and Development Director for Gays Mills and the Mercantile Center. “The artists in the group will share responsibility to volunteer and staff the gallery, contributing monthly to keep the gallery open.”

The Arts Collective is open to artists living within the Driftless region, covering the unglaciated portions of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois.

“Diversity is important if we want people to drive here,” artist and Project Assistant Chela said. “When we first began discussing this, we decided to staff it ourselves. The staffing is interlocked with the amount of commission you pay when a piece sells. ”

The group is still looking for grant and donation money to help with the project. While the space is flooded with natural light from the surrounding windows, Henley noted that the lights inside the space are not the best for displaying artwork.

“The Arts Collective is a project of the Gays Mills Economic Development Association,” Henley said. “Anyone interested in making a tax deductible donation to the project can make that donation at Royal Bank.”

Artists interested in joining the Arts Collective of the Driftless are welcome to gather more information online at or by contacting Henley at 608-792-9994 or via email at

Nikki Dull has been teaching dance in Gays Mills several years in the former Gays Mills Community Building on Main Street. Her new space looks south and west across the north end of town and the marshes of the Kickapoo River.

Dull has used the move as an opportunity to expand her classes and restructure how she charges for them.

“I split classes into six week sessions,” Dull said. “We always had to schedule around holidays and I felt like people ended up paying for time they didn’t actually get to use. So now, it’s divided into four sessions per year with discounts for additional classes. That can be really significant if you are taking more than one class or are a family with several children attending.”

Classes are 45 minutes, except for the full hour Intro to Dance, which includes ballet, tap and tumbling.

Dull has added Adult Ballet and Tap and Zumba to the line up.

“These classes are for any level of participant,” Dull said. “We take time to make sure everyone gets the instruction they need to succeed.” Dull has also added opportunity for students to compete in dance competition.

“I have had a number of students express interest in competing,” Dull said. “It’s not mandatory, but for the students who want it, it’s now an option.”

Dull has her schedules and brochures available online at You can also contact her by calling 608-606-4466 or emailing her at