Gallery Artists Gather To Look Ahead
Artists to suggest new programs with grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts
Twenty of the 50+ artists who show and sell their work through Berryville Main Street’s Fire House Gallery gathered at the gallery on September 5 for something gallery director Kate Petranech calls, “a very pleasant task.” The group is exploring ideas for new events and activities promoting art and artists in Berryville, made possible by a $5,000 grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.
This is the third consecutive year that Berryville Main Street received the grant, demonstrating the funders’ satisfaction with the quality and variety of its programs which include:
Solo Artist Exhibits, such as last year’s highly praised Wood-Turning Wonder: Robert Van Meter, a homage to the late master wood-turner’s life and work.
Group Artist Shows like Fabulous Fibers for All. Featuring the work of a dozen-plus fiber artists, this show was so well received it will be an “evergreen” or staple in the gallery’s annual offerings. Indeed, the 2nd Annual Fabulous Fibers for All exhibit opens on October 18 with a special reception from six to eight p.m.
Art Awareness Endeavors such as the widely publicized 2011 and 2012 Community Supported Art (CSA) program. This novel initiative—modeled after one created to promote the purchase of local fruits and vegetables—encouraged people to buy a “share” or basket of art.
Art Pays Dividends for Local Economies
While fostering knowledge and appreciation for art is both desirable and laudable, initiatives such as these bring more than just a “pretty face” to a community. They can be economic engines that drive traffic and revenue to a town’s commercial center. That kind of promotion is the mission of Berryville Main Street, and a key reason BMS created the gallery.
A quick look at the numbers suggests it’s working. According to Petranech, “Since the Fire House Gallery doors opened in January 2010, close to 7,000 people have stopped by to have a look. They came to view art, attend exhibits as well as pick up brochures and flyers about other places to shop or events to attend in and around Berryville,” she said.
Even more significant, almost 2,000 of them made a purchase, putting coins into more than 50 artists’ pockets, contributing a small but meaningful amount of revenue to the county coffers.
Bigger and (Even) Better Ahead
Petranech says three themes emerged from discussions September 5.
- Increase offerings of current programs to one or more each month. This is already off to a good start, says Petranech, with the gallery’s new “Little Shows,” small displays of a single artist’s work. The next one, featuring hand-built pottery by Neenja Jhaveri, November 1. In addition, the number of the Saturday Art of Making Art demonstrations will increase.
- Increase exposure with two new exhibits. Like the Robert Van Meter and fiber arts exhibit mentioned above, these are major endeavors that offer an in depth look at an artist, a medium, or a theme. Ideas presented at the September meeting include: By the Beautiful Sea, photography, watercolors, fiber art, ceramics; From the Earth, wood, textiles, jewelry made from gemstones; Black and White, photography, painting, glass, jewelry, ceramics.
- Increase traffic and revenue by raising awareness about the gallery’s proud history, unique collection, and gifted artists. This will be done, says Petranech, through a reimagining of the gallery website. Funding will finally allow the gallery to hire various professionals to shoot the collection for promotional purposes, conduct interviews with artists; and do an overall audit to assess quality of content, visual appeal and ease of use.
“It’s an ambitious agenda,” said Petranech. “But with funding available and volunteers pitching in, it’s eminently doable. And a lot of fun to boot.”
Have a desire to work in the gallery? On an exhibit? Behind the scenes? Check out your options by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “Gallery Volunteer” in the subject line.