Walking into The Mausoleum Art Gallery in downtown Aurora is like stepping into another world.
The first thing you’ll see when you step into the unassuming old brick building, a former motorcycle shop at 213 South River Street, is several massive metal sculptures. They stand in front of several other bright and detailed paintings and collage works. The front room of The Mausoleum is a lounge, with couches and tables—co-owner Jake Heinz says he wants it to be “like Starbucks for artists.”
But step further in and you’ll find hundreds of intricate colored pipes for sale, the work of local glass blowers. And step even further, and you’ll get to see those glass blowers at work. The back area of The Mausoleum is a fully-functioning art workshop, complete with torches that project 3,000-degree flames, perfect for melting glass and re-forming it.
And in this back room, you’ll meet a previously unseen subculture in the Aurora area. Heinz and his partner, Ryan “Ghost” Green, both 36, are hoping to provide the area’s only place for glass blowers to learn their art, create their works and immediately get them seen, and perhaps bought.
This is The Mausoleum, a business unlike anything in the Aurora area. It's an edgier gallery than some may be used to: a sign on the door reads "You must be 18 with valid ID to enter."
The two Montgomery men who started it—Heinz still lives in the village, Green grew up there but now lives in Yorkville—are glass blowers themselves, and have been planning their new gallery for two years.
Green has been working with glass for years. He said a friend who owned a glass company “conned me into working for him,” and he took to it immediately. And when he showed his work to Heinz, his longtime friend was blown away. Heinz quickly took up the art form, which he says requires patience and perseverance to master.
“I always say it’s like an emotional roller coaster,” Heinz laughed. He’s seen many a nearly-finished piece break because one section of it cooled off too much, too early.
“You just have to get into it,” he said. “Heat up the glass, see how it moves, and get used to it.”
The pipes and other pieces on display at The Mausoleum were made by experts, and everything is for sale. Green said he hopes to help build up a strong arts community in the Aurora area, something he said has been exploding in recent years, and to offer a communal environment for those artists to work in.
“Most of the people who work here are used to working out of their garage,” Green said. “We’re like a family now, we give each other tips. It’s crazy to see how fast they’ve evolved, having us here to mentor them and show them techniques.”
Though The Mausoleum has been open for business for a while, the grand opening celebration is set for this weekend. On Saturday and Sunday, DJs will spin music while Heinz and Green raffle off pieces of art, and a graffiti artist will paint on the walls while patrons watch.
As for the future, Heinz and Green hope to join forces with the burgeoning arts movement in Aurora—The Mausoleum is one of three new galleries opening soon, they said—and keep it growing. Heinz pointed to the walls, now sporting a few paintings each, and smiled.
“I want these walls to be covered,” he said.
The Mausoleum Art Gallery can be found online at www.mausoleumgallery.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mausoleumgallery. Green’s art can be seen at www.ghostglassart.com. The gallery is open Monday through Friday from noon to 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. You must be 18 with a valid ID to enter.