After graduating last year with an illustration degree from Kansas University, Eric Dobbins decided it was the right time to try his hand at a downtown art gallery.
His creation, the Wonder Fair Art Gallery, opens with a reception from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday at 803 Mass., in the basement of the new Casbah Market, which Dobbins' girlfriend helps operate.
"It just seemed like a perfect thing to do at this point in my life," Dobbins says of the gallery.
The operation started as a gallery to showcase the art of "contemporary, rad, young, fresh people," Dobbins says.
But for practicality, he's expanded it to include 'zines, screen prints and other art memorabilia. He also has started a screen printing operation - both for his own prints and T-shirts and for those wanting to do their own works. And the space houses a workshop for Adam Smith, a local custom framer.
The opening show is a highlight of recent works by the Fresh Produce Art Collective, which has been operating for more than a year in Lawrence. Several members of Fresh Produce also have opened the Dot Dot Dot ArtSpace, 1920 Haskell Ave. But Dobbins, who has been involved in the Fresh Produce group, says he and members of the other gallery are working together - and not in competition - with their shows.
One of the unique parts of the Wonder Fair gallery is the Wonder Box Art Vend. Dobbins has solicited local artists to decorate a cigarette-pack-sized wood block and return it to him. Then, he puts it in an old cigarette-dispensing machine (which used to be at the Replay Lounge) and the art can be dispensed, at random, for $5 each.