Struggling art gallery to host open house

BUCKHANNON – Representatives of the recently restructured Main Street Art Gallery in Buckhannon will introduce changes in the gallery’s operations and ideas for its future management during a casual evening gathering this weekend.

Main Street Arts Cooperative President Tom Lynch will be providing an artistic demonstration during the event as he weaves the seat of a chair on-site. Wine and finger foods will be available, provided by Chef Bear, a local chef in Upshur County.

The gallery may also play host to an ice sculpture and locally pressed hot ciders.

While the evening event takes place at 6 p.m. Saturday, the gallery will be open from 10 a.m. through duration of the event.

“It’s sort of our kick off of the holiday season, but it’s also our first public event since our restructuring,” Lynch said. “So we’re looking forward to meeting and greeting people and telling them about what our new plans are and telling them about the future (of the gallery).”

The gallery, which has experienced financial difficulty in its recent past, is working to organize artists and community members to help generate ideas to find a new way forward. The restructuring of the gallery comes from necessity because members said the old structure just wasn’t working. The gallery struggled to pay November’s rent and utility bills and reported that revenue from this year was significantly below that of the previous two years.

“I’m totally optimistic about the finances of the co-op and being able to perpetuate a sustainable system,” Bryson VanNostrand, the owner of the building the gallery occupies, said.

VanNostrand attended a meeting last week where he announced his willingness to cooperate with the gallery through the financial dilemma as members create a working plan to relaunch the gallery. The kick-off event for the gallery also is also being held in conjunction with VanNostrand’s open house event, introducing a cafe and Lascaux Micro-Theater on Trader’s Alley near the gallery.

The art gallery is located on Main Street and the cafe and Lascaux Micro-Theater are located in the alley across from Dairy Queen.

“It’s sort of a joint effort to bring this area of Buckhannon some entertainment,” Lynch said.

VanNostrand announced last week that he installed new lights on the wall of the building, lighting the path to the theater through the alley. He said he had plans to eventually display urban art there in the future. He said the artwork would be the kind that would make people stop and think.

The difficulties faced by the gallery have made many people stop and think about possible solutions in recent months.

“We’re trying to reach out to make (the gallery) an option for anyone in the community,” CJ Rylands, owner of CJ Maggie’s Restaurant and a participant in the gallery discussions, said. “Just come in and catch what’s going on, what we want to do.”

Throughout 2013 and in years past, the gallery has operated with an annual $100 membership fee; in addition, the gallery takes in a 40 percent commission on each piece of artwork sold. The majority of participants in the discussions have agreed that the gallery should switch to a monthly fee.

Memberships now are $30 a month, but in January 2014, members may pay $300 for the full year, meaning they will receive two months of membership for free.