Fort Wayne artists build community & an ‘art corridor’ on Broadway as Electric Works develops

A few doors down from Trubble Brewing, next door to the Philmore on Broadway, you’ll find a brick building with a green awning.
Step inside, and you’ll feel like you’re in a big city art gallery with shiny wood floors, white walls covered in colorful art, crystal chandeliers, decorative ceiling tiles, and upbeat house music thumping through the speakers. Mannequins dressed in retooled streetwear stand near the entry, waiting to greet you.
Behind the desk in the back is Kristina Wiley of Gallery K, a local artist and woman of many talents who works in both 2D and 3D media and features the art of more than 40 creators of all kinds in her space. The gallery, which extends through two historic storefronts and into the adjoining insurance agency next door, highlights local, national and international talent. Even the tea Kristina brews for guests is locally made and sold in shop by a company called Lu Garden.

Gallery K is located at 2445 Broadway.
For Kristina, factors like variety, quality and representing multiple types of creativity are three of the big “whys” behind her space.
“There are so many styles of art I enjoy, so I have a little bit of everything here, from a $15 scratch-and-sniff fart book to $20,000 sculptures,” Kristina says. “I want people to come in, no matter what their taste, style or budget, and be able to find something they like.”

Gallery K is open from noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays and on special appointment.
Since she was a kid, Kristina has had an affinity for handcrafted, original work. Her grandmother was a fine artist and often decorated her home with her own artwork. Whenever Kristina visited, she noticed a difference in how her grandmother’s house felt compared to other places.
“I didn’t know what the difference was at the time, but I knew it felt different, and it made me feel something,” Kristina says. “Now, I try to recreate that feeling here by being surrounded by original work.”

Kristina Wiley of Gallery K shows some of the fashion in shop, including specialty apparel by ShareChic Boutique.
A local painter and welder herself, Kristina partnered with the building’s owner, Phil Terrell, to curate the space at 2445 Broadway. Before the pandemic, multiple artists were showing some work in the space, but it wasn’t a curated gallery. In May 2021, Kristina moved in and changed that. (She’s also helping to activate and curate another historic venue, The Declan, available on Airbnb. Both The Declan and Gallery K are rentable for private events.)
Gallery K is open to the public every Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. and by special appointment. It hosts events, like gallery openings and community gatherings, too.
“This year, I’m teaming up with Rudy’s Cigar Shop, and on the second and fourth Wednesdays, starting in May, we’re going to have Wine & Cigar Nights on the patio out back,” Kristina says.

Gallery K is rentable for private events.
On Saturdays, the space often sees visitors from its surrounding neighborhoods. It has nooks with seating for casual meetups, like gatherings for the Creighton Neighborhood Association. 
Kristina says that as Electric Works develops this spring, she and other artists with galleries along the Broadway Corridor are teaming up to create a walkable “art corridor” vibe for the community.
In the past, events like the annual Broadway Street Stroll have activated the space for a few hours or days at a time. In the future, Kristina and others hope that strolling for art along Broadway will become a regular occurrence.
“We’re hoping it catches on, and people start to migrate up and down Broadway more often to see art,” Kristina says. “There’s a lot of local art and small businesses to support here, and as it gets to be a busier area, we think it will keep getting better and better.”

Gallery K features more than 40 makers, including retooled streetwear.
A few blocks down the street on Broadway toward Downtown, you’ll find several businesses that house local art and artists, including longtime favorites like Alex Hall and Terri Ratliff's galleries, Aaron's Fine Rug Gallery, the HEDGE Creative House, and Davey's Delicious Bagels.

Across the street, next door to Fancy & Staple (which sells local art), you’ll find another recently opened gallery, the Ruth Koomler Art gallery at 1107 Broadway. Koomler's space features modern and abstract art. It sells items from about 25 artists at a wide range of price points, starting at $5 greeting card prints of Fort Wayne streetscapes and ranging to original paintings, pottery, and sculptures worth hundreds or thousands of dollars.

“As an abstract artist myself, I never found a gallery that strongly featured the style of art I did in Fort Wayne, so I wanted to make one,” Koomler says.

Ruth Koomler of the Ruth Koomler Art gallery at 1107 Broadway.

Now, in addition to hosting gallery openings with live music and food, she opens the space for the public to hang out and explore Wednesday-Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. Every Saturday, around 4 p.m., she offers guests a “wine time” with beverages, tea, or coffee. Many times, visitors will meet new friends there or get inspired to make creative works of their own.

“There’s a woman who comes in frequently and writes snippets of poetry while she’s here,” Koomler says. “Whoever visits, we’ll often sit and chat. I always say that I have ‘intent’ with this space, and it’s not just about selling art; it’s about the community.”


Attend Gallery K’s Spring Show April 5, from 6-9 p.m., at 2445 Broadway, and see more than 75 new pieces of art on display. Details on Instagram @gallerykonbroadway.

Ruth Koomler Art recently hosted their Spring Show. Follow them @ruthkoomlerart for future events.

Full disclosure: The author, Kara Hackett, sometimes staffs Gallery K.
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Kara Hackett is a Fort Wayne native fascinated by what's next for northeast Indiana how it relates to other up-and-coming places around the world. After working briefly in New York City and Indianapolis, she moved back to her hometown where she has discovered interesting people, projects, and innovations shaping the future of this place—and has been writing about them ever since. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @karahackett.