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The four founders of EggSpace Gallery create an unlikely art venue.

Hatching a Plan

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An unusual tale of two artists began years back when Andrew Olsen and friend Thomas O. Van Auken started showing their work in the unlikely venue of a cabinetry-firm bathroom.

Four years ago, the duo, calling themselves Group Egg, got the opportunity to hang their art work at Olsen's employer's company Christmas party. But the extra exposure they sought from the party wasn't promoted on the invitations. It was a trip to the bathroom that exposed hundreds of people to the two artists' work. And as the Christmas party grew in popularity, so did their show. By last year, the company offered them a bigger vacant space within the building. The new space was so large in comparison to the bathroom that they invited artists Ed Trask and Jayson Andrews to share the room. Their work drew more people, resulting in what Van Auken says was a good-sized show, and it sparked the idea of starting their own venue, named EggSpace.

Their vision became a reality last week with the opening of their artist-run venue, but staying true to the founders' roots, EggSpace is anything but glamorous. Located in a nondescript warehouse, on a lot wedged between an on-ramp and one of the best views of Richmond, the gallery sits on the corner of Seventh Street and Semmes Avenue. The building's hole-ridden dirt driveway leads visitors down the side of the warehouse through a wonderland of broken objects and scrap medal. Upon parking on the flattest piece of land available, visitors will see the front entrance, noted on the exterior by an egg painted on the door.

The interior, equally modest, is one small room with just enough wall space to effectively display the four group-members' work, and with the renovations that they made to it, the space is clean and well-lit. Bare-bones sheets of plywood cover the entire floor, adding to the overall charm of the gallery.

The opening show features work from the four founding fathers. Andrews combines drawing and painting in his stark compositions to create a cryptic personal iconography that is as lighthearted as it is unsettling. The versatile Olsen moves freely between painting, sculpture and furniture-making. Trask, who is best known for his outdoor murals around town, employs his bold brushwork in his smaller paintings to portray everyday people and things with populist undertones. And Van Auken, a figurative painter, paints and draws his subjects directly from life.

Future shows at EggSpace will most likely feature only one or two artists. "Each of us have some other artist that we would like to show with and [who we] would like to see get a show," Van Auken says. "It's not going to become a gallery with monthly shows and regular gallery hours. We're not trying to compete with Artspace and 1708."

With limited hours, Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and no gallery administrator, Group Egg will not run its venue traditionally. Each artist has other responsibilities or professional engagements that keeps him from dedicating all of his time to running the gallery.

"We're all artists, but no one wants to be a gallery administrator," Van Auken says.

That could be a blessing because the group cannot rely on passersby falling in love with a piece they peeked in on, while walking along a well-traveled street. But the space works for them. "It's dirt cheap, and that is what's enabling us to do this," Van Auken says. "It's small and it will work for

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