BUCKHANNON - After months of planning, the newly re-branded Artistry on Main gallery officially opened Friday, exhibiting new artists and changes that officials and members say they hope will move the gallery toward the future.
Since August, when the Main Street Artists Cooperative announced it was struggling with paying the gallery's bills and finding volunteers, thus struggling to keep the doors open to shoppers, board members, artists, volunteers and other interested citizens have pooled their ideas, concerns and knowledge together.
The teamwork created changes to the gallery that could sustain it, encouraging artists to join and volunteers to stay and keeping the doors open to the public so artwork could be seen and sold.
"I think that we put our heads together, got some council about how to make decisions, and it all worked out for the best," Ron Hinkle, a gallery member and the owner of Ron Hinkle Glass, said. "I think it's (the gallery) brighter, more enthusiastic for the members. I think we're going to be successful here. Plus, I believe we have some really good, quality artists."
As of Friday, Artistry on Main President Christine Keller said the gallery has 31 artist members and there are limited spaces still available. Membership fees vary based on the space that is rented by the artist. All artists are juried in by the gallery's board members, and the gallery is still looking to fill spaces with the work of different types of artists.
Keller said more photographers are needed, but there is plenty of pottery on display by the juried potters. Patrons of the gallery who enjoy an artist's work and would like to request a commissioned piece, may ask a gallery representative to contact the artist with the request, Keller said.
Every artist is required as part of his or her membership to volunteer at least one day in the gallery. With 31 artists already on tab, and a list of other volunteers who can replace a shift as needed, the gallery can remain open seven days a week.
"Being able to keep it open seven days a week is going to be a big help," Keller said. "Getting here has been a journey. It's exciting to see what the future is going to bring here. It's amazing to actually have it finally being opened. It's a good feeling."
The gallery's hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday and from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.
On Friday, the gallery celebrating with county officials, artists and patrons through a ribbon-cutting event.
"It's absolutely beautiful," Upshur County Chamber of Commerce Director Tammy Reger said. "We're thrilled to have Artistry on Main here. I think it's just going to grow, especially with the new classes they're offering."
Artistry on Main also has added the hosting of classes to their list of changes. On Thursday, five students met in the gallery's new "Imagination Station," a classroom in the back of the gallery, for instruction on Ukrainian Easter Egg Painting taught by Buckhannon native Julie Dilworth. Class Coordinator Teresa Mason said the class was such a hit, it will be taught again from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday at the gallery.
Interested persons do not have to be artistic, a member of the gallery or its board to be involved and provide input. Keller said everyone is welcome to attend the gallery meetings at 11 a.m. every Thursday on the top floor of CJ Maggies on Main Street in Buckhannon.