SIOUX CITY — During the late 19th century and into the early 20th century, Sioux Cityans could purchase haberdashery from the west end of T.S. Martin & Co. Department Store at 515 Fourth St.
For much of the Great Depression and leading into World War II, fashionable ladies could meet up with friends at Kresge’s second floor luncheonette, which was housed in the same building.
Up until a few years ago, well-dressed gents could fill their closets with plenty of Ralph Lauren dress shirts and Tommy Bahama weekend apparel at the recently closed Karlton’s Men Clothiers at the very same place.
Amy Thompson knew the historical importance that the three-story Martin Block building has in downtown Sioux City.
That’s why she and her engineer husband, Matt Thompson, selected the space for Art SUX, a gallery for area artists to create, exhibit and sell their pieces.
“We started Art SUX with a studio and gallery at the Ho-Chunk Centre in 2019,” Thompson explained. “We quickly outgrew that space.”
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Even since, she’d be scoping out downtown sites as soon as they hit the market.
“The former Karlton’s was always at the top of our wish list,” Thompson said. “As soon as we took possession of the building (in December 2020), we knew Art SUX had a terrific new home.”
Previously an English teacher and writer, Thompson began creating abstract art more than 12 years ago.
Over time, she realized that Sioux City had a small but dedicated population of artists who knew and liked each other.
“An art community is important to artists but it can also be a destination point for a city,” Thompson said.
At Art SUX, Sioux Cityans can see multiple artists under one roof.
“We have 22 different artists in 15 different studios,” Thompson said. “We have painters, muralists, sculptors, people who work in metals, wood, photography, you name it.”
Another thing that Art SUX has is a waiting list for gallery space.
“Things and circumstances change all the time,” Thompson said. “We encourage all artists to contact us if they’d need studio space.”
Is there such a thing as too much art?
Thompson doesn’t think so.
After all, Art SUX is a building filled with art. And the Martin Block building can be considered a work of art in its self.
“We are so pleased to be see a historic building get a new lease in life,” Thompson said.