Local artists find new venue for creations on Main St.

Kelly Metz and Kelly Metz

The Arts in Common gallery, located in the Main Street Common Space, is a safe space for local artists and art merchants.

Arts in Common was opened last October in the former South Main Elementary building with the intention of advocating the arts through the community. The gallery was closed over the summer for renovations. The gallery reopened in August with 20 members who were excited about workshops, classes and other activities.

Executive Director Susan Woodard discovered the gallery last December and joined with the intention to help develop a place where artists can exhibit work, bounce ideas off each other and have critique sessions.

‘Arts in Common is a place where local artists can come show their work, sell their work or just talk with other artists,’ Woodard said. ‘If an artist is stuck, we can give them feedback to discuss and give advice. Critiques are so important to grow as an artist.’

The gallery recently held classes taught by members for children to make paper hats, collages and other pieces of art featured in the gallery; the children liked this because the University Art Department does not offer classes like this for them, Woodard said.

Keeping the gallery involved with the community is important because a lot of townspeople do not get to campus and have no way of exhibiting their artwork, said Tom McLaughlin, a founding member.’

Both Woodard and McLaughlin agree being involved with student artists would not only help promote the gallery but would also bring in customers to shop and view original art.

‘The hardest part of having a gallery designed to create more community within a certain group of people is getting the word out,’ McLaughlin said.

In order to advertise, Woodard delivers fliers and sends press releases to the School of Art as well as other local businesses.

Creating a partnership with the University would also help the gallery to build membership and build its reputation, Woodard said.

‘We do encourage better connections with the University because we believe we have so much to offer them,’ Woodard said. ‘With this gallery, students can become ‘full-fledge artists,’ and by exhibiting work it would be a great way to network and by becoming members, it would also help students to grow as artists.’

University involvement would be an excellent way to promote business and community traffic, as long as the University does not try to ‘take over’ the gallery, founding member Bob Midden, said.

‘One of the appeals to local artists is that the gallery is small and relatively private,’ Midden said. ‘The University already has several galleries to help student work and as long as the gallery stays to the community, it would be great to have the University involved.’

To become a member of the gallery, a $20 fee and a time commitment of one working shift per month is required. Arts in Common keeps 20 percent commission on all sales which helps keep the gallery staffed and maintained.

McLaughlin thinks even if people do not like art for art’s sake, people should still visit the gallery to buy gifts for friends and family members because original art is so much better than store-bought items.

Currently, Arts in Common Gallery is hosting The 2007 Holiday Show until Dec. 23. This show is open to the public.

McLaughlin, who has been creating miniature works of art and will have a carousel featured at the gallery, will have an exhibition from Dec. 14 to Dec. 23 as a part of the holiday show.

The gallery is open Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.