Culture & Community


What is ArtStart?

ArtStart is a group of volunteers—business people, artists, art lovers, educators, and other community-minded citizens—who have transformed the historic Federal Building in downtown Rhinelander, Wisconsin into a destination arts and cultural center. The City of Rhinelander voted to purchase the building from the Federal Government for $1 and lease it to our non-profit organization, and ArtStart, Inc. was born.



ArtStart's mission: To inspire, challenge and educate through cultural events and highly-distinctive, curated visual art exhibitions with the purpose of strengthening and sustaining our community.



Gallery hours


11am - 5pm Thursday - Saturday


Gallery tours Available upon request


Location and parking

68 S. Stevens Street, Downtown Rhinelander



ArtStart Board of Directors

Ken Juon, President

Judi Linder, Vice-President

Patty Fitzpatrick, Secretary

Kaye Jaeger, Treasurer

Sue Bessert

Julie Berndt

Colleen Finn

Jon Koch

Ben Meyer

Barbara Sholl

Michelle Smith-Grage

Elaine Strite

Tara Vandenberg

Bob Weigandt

Rick Zoerb


Program and Operations Director

Ashley McLaughlin


Ashley McLaughlin, a Rhinelander native, has always been passionate about nonprofits and the arts.


McLaughlin is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point where she studied public relations and communication and focused on nonprofit work.


She has lead community nonprofits for over 15 years, most recently as the Director of The Fix Is In, Inc., a mobile spay, neuter clinic. In 2015, McLaughlin began as a gallery assistant volunteer and coordinator at ArtStart. Her passion for the organization grew, and in early 2017, she joined ArtStart staff as the Program and Operations Director.


From childhood to adulthood, McLaughlin has participated heavily in arts education. She enrolled in art classes throughout her education in the Rhinelander School District and at Nicolet Area Technical College. Her areas of artistic interest are in ceramics, soft pastel drawing, and acrylic painting.


Beyond ArtStart, McLaughlin enjoys the northwoods lifestyle and the uniqueness of Rhinelander’s bountiful lakes. She and her young family recreate through watersports, kayaking, fishing, snowshoeing, dog walking, hiking, and biking.


Development Director

Melinda Childs


As ArtStart's Development Director, Melinda Childs' calling is to build individual, community and financial relationships that promote ArtStart and the arts as vital to our area's creative and economic wellbeing.


Childs has more than a decade's hands-on experience working in the arts-based community development field. She has organized neighborhood art festivals and guided artists and communities though the "how to" of creating public art projects. She takes particular pride in organizing the Art Shanty Project in which artists designed interactive fishing shacks on a frozen lake.


While serving as Program Director and consultant for Forecast Public Art in Minneapolis, Childs designed professional and economic development training programs for artists and communities seeking to use art to activate their environments and economies. She participated in numerous grant committees, as well as the planning committee for the Great Places Initiative. Childs also worked on planning artist specific content for the Public Art Network's annual conference.


Childs lives in Rhinelander with her artist husband-Jaron, two young children-Roan and Singer and dog Kasper where they lead an art- and nature-filled life.



Exhibition Coordinator

Laura Ehmann


Since ArtStart Galleries opened in 2012, Laura Ehmann has coordinated all aspects of the exhibition process, working with artists and the ArtStart Exhibition Team, including our own Curators and Guest Curators to prepare for upcoming exhibitions. She also coordinates with programming, communications, design, and facilities staff and volunteers to ensure a seamless gallery experience for our visitors.


Laura’s background is in communications in nonprofit organizations, and she holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and a Master of Arts degree in Business Communication. Laura is one of the founders of ArtStart and, not surprisingly, an art lover who is dedicated to bringing unique, high-quality artwork to our community.