Up until 2008, Columbus Park neighborhood had a thriving art gallery community. The area was home to about eight galleries and some neighbors would host art shows in their homes during Third Fridays. The art scene started to naturally slow down, and most galleries closed, but the Trap Gallery never let the art scene in the area fully disappear.
Third Fridays are a sibling to First Fridays, in which art galleries have general openings on every third Friday of the month from April to October in Columbus Park.
Dan Frueh, owner of the Trap Gallery in Columbus Park, says the business started when he first moved to the area.
“I had purchased a house in the area and my neighbors across the street had opened up a gallery. It was really cool. I thought, ‘Hey, I have four walls, I can do that,’ and so I opened Trap Gallery. From there, a bunch of galleries opened in the area.”
Trap Gallery was named after the area, when it used to be called the “trap.” It started at 5th and Troost, and eventually moved to exactly where the gallery is now at 525 Gillis St., where people would gamble and drink and get “trapped” in the good time.
Frueh says he used to try to host the openings on First Fridays, but with the popularity of First Fridays in the Crossroads, it was not as successful as he wanted it to be.
“It was hard to compete with the success of First Fridays in the Crossroads,” he said, “because it was really starting to pick up heat at the time, so we moved it to Third Fridays. And that was successful for us.”
Frueh currently lives in Columbus Park with his wife, daughter, and three (sometimes four) cats. Originally from Des Moines, Iowa, he first moved to Kansas City for the well-known art institute and fell in love with the city. He is a photographer with an adulation for rust.
When he was in art school, Frueh commonly photographed and showed pieces that contained rust. Right before he graduated in 1994, one of his friends connected him with another artist who loved rust, and they had their first showing.
This is when their most popular show “Love Rust” started.
Love Rust happens on the final third Friday, which is also Frueh’s birthday weekend. Each year the show happens, more and more artists join. Although some might find it surprising how popular rust art is, Frueh was unsurprised.
“Once you start having the conversation, it’s awesome how many people come out of the woodwork who love rust.”
Despite the slowdown of galleries in 2008, Frueh kept that community going for a while. The community Columbus Park had created for him, he said, was too important to him to see it go away.
Now, there are two galleries in the area, Trap and the Eight One Five Gallery. Both participate in Third Fridays. Trap not only shows local established artists, but also allows seniors from Kansas City Art Institute to show their senior thesis pieces.
Frueh chooses each senior himself, and hosts their thesis the third Friday of April. He noticed there was a gap in the gallery scene that allowed students to host their work. Most galleries only want established artists, and he wanted to change that.
“I remember when I was a senior, and it was almost impossible to find somewhere to host my senior thesis. I wanted to be able to give easy access and opportunity to seniors in the area.”
Although Frueh started out as a photographer, his gallery does not only show photography. He shows sculptures, paintings, and various forms of art every third Friday.
For more information on the Trap Gallery and Third Fridays, visit columbusparkart.com.