New Rockford art venue offers a fun place to view and create art

Students work on a floral painting during one of Ron Pleune’s two-hour instructional courses. — Courtesy photo

ROCKFORD — Date night, girls’ night out or a little “me” time has a new venue in the area. Rockford resident, Ron Pleune will be opening ARTengage on Oct. 1.

ARTengage will feature a fine art gallery and painting studio at 120 Courtland in downtown Rockford. The fine art featured in the gallery will be comprised of local artists as well as up and coming artists from area colleges.

Pleune brings to ARTengage both real world experience and a broad educational background. Having earned a business degree from Grand Valley State University and a degree in illustration from Kendall College, Pleune has managed an art gallery, provided private art tutoring, organized art competitions and served as a juror for different art competitions. Pleune was prompted by a lackluster job market to open his own business and bring a unique experience to the community.

“I had some time looking for jobs and I really wasn’t enthused about them and sort of created my own,” Pleune said.

In addition to creating his own job, Pleune provides a fun outing for friends or an activity for parents and their children. During gallery hours in the day, children ages 10 and older can paint without instruction a piece of their choosing while those 16 and older can opt to take an instructed course for a cost of $30. Courses are two hours in duration and the particular painting being taught is listed in the course schedule under the calendar available at

Pleune was also inspired to open ARTengage with the growing popularity of Wine and Canvas events held throughout the country. While he does offer the canvas, Pleune will offer specialty coffees, teas and local drinks rather than wine. It is his hope that by offering something new to the area, combined with the popularity of Art Prize that ARTengage will not only catch on in Rockford but eventually spread to other communities as well and share his love of art.

“When I used to mange the art studio years ago, I went to the main office in Minnesota and they showed me this Russian art and these pieces were 12 feet high and 20 feet long and $100,000 each,” Pleune said. “When you are in front of art like that, it is staggering, but it is really about having fun.”

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