Visitors to the newly renovated building at 321 W. Midwest Ave. encounter the smell of fresh paint and the glow of natural light.

The concrete floors are polished and sanded. The historic red-brick walls are painted and preserved. Large windows brighten the room.

What was once the Pacific Fruit & Produce Company warehouse built more than 100 years ago now features a rustic, state-of-the-art design, perfect for the building’s new purpose: the home for the Casper Artists’ Guild.

“We’re re-purposing everything we can in this building,” said Holly Turner, the guild's executive director. “We wanted to really honor the character of the building, from the brick to the cement walls to the cement floors.”

That’s why the first exhibit at the guild’s new location recognizes the building’s history.

Spread throughout the main room is an array of art pieces: a large, red wooden storage shed, a tall indoor-outdoor wooden clock, a wooden cooler, wooden wine holder, wooden paintings and more, all created by locals in the community, all made with the same component.

Pallets.

“The railroad was right (outside the building), and all the fruits and vegetables would come in here on pallets and be stored for all the grocery stores and restaurants,” Turner said. “So that’s why we picked The Pallet Project.”

The Pallet Project will run through the month of May. On May 29, the Casper Artists’ Guild will hold a grand opening gala, where the pieces will be sold.

While sections of the guild’s new location still need finishing touches, the main exhibit room is ready to go. It features plenty of wall space, a local artists’ gift shop, a library with leather couches and a free Wi-Fi Internet bar. In this gathering place for art, even the silver heating and cooling system lining the ceiling has flare.

“(We had artists) draw different designs, and then they drilled them in,” Turner said. “We wanted something a little more creative.”

Following The Pallet Project, locals can expect a new exhibit unveiled every first Thursday of the month. On other Thursdays, the guild will host “how to” nights.

“If you want to learn how to paint, if you want to learn how to draw, we have ceramic classes, we have drawing classes,” Turner said. “On Thursday nights, you know you can come here and make something.”

A major phase of the construction at 321 W. Midwest Ave. is now done. The front deck, which will overlook the sculpture garden outside the building, is next, and later, the other businesses featured inside the old fruit warehouse will begin construction.

“There’ll be a coffee shop, gelato shop, wood fire/coal fire pizza, a rooftop bar, an Italian marketplace and a liquor store,” Turner said. “So you can come here and see new art, and then next door, when they’re open, you can have pizza, beer and wine.”

Once the entire building is complete, it will offer something new and unique to downtown Casper.

“Getting more of that culture that bigger cities have,” Amy Elmore said, who works on staff at the Casper Artists’ Guild. “I feel like Casper is finally ready for it. When all of us travel to get that, why can’t we have it here, in our hometown?”

Follow reporter Brendan Meyer on Twitter @Brendan_Meyer13.

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