Friday, June 25, 2010

Downtown Developments

Today was the last day of set up and now Snarky Art….the Studio is officially complete and open for business! More about that another time however as I want to get one last review in before heading off to the land of sweaty scouts and sumptuous Sysco. Unfortunately, I was unable to view the show due to the gallery space not being open (Lynda Tuttle’s Art Center) so “Marge’s Imagery, the fiber works of Marge May “will have to wait. It is there until August 30 so I will get to it in time.

My husband and I walked over to the 6th Street location after a wonderful lunch in a packed Iris Restaurant. On a Friday afternoon, it was great to see so many people doing the same (eating at Iris). I have known Angus and Sarah a long time and look forward to being their new neighbor. My beef however (not the lunch kind, I had the crab and clam soup) is that the gallery did not have any hours posted on the door or where I could easily find them. Lots of interesting items were viewable through the glass before the space got too dark but if I were an out-of-towner, I would not know when to come back. As a business, we owe it to our buying public to know when they can come see us. Everybody is busy, including owners, but it just makes common sense to keep some type of regular hours for people to stop by and around which to plan their leisure time to see art. Galleries and studios are not “destination spots” most of the time unless a special event is being held. Hours need to be posted on websites and in any publications that list the venue in question. Her space has so many wonderful things happening and should be a regular “stop” on the arts district circuit when the yellow gallery signs are out on the sidewalks, especially in the summer months when people are out and about on their lunch hour. Just his past week, I have encountered several leisure time groups of shoppers (spending money not withstanding) who were downtown having a look around. I have seen some of Marge May’s pieces and feel she is not getting the exposure due to her.

Passing several vacant properties, I came up with a couple of ideas that could perhaps take advantage of these empty spaces and add to our growing district. First idea is for the empty corner storefront near Anderson Creative. Now mind you, I am a better Captain Picard than a first officer. He just got to come up with great plans and tell his right hand guy to “make it so”. I can envision that space as a gallery that rotates in the following manner. Each month one high school or school district in Stark County gets to use the space to stage an exhibit or whatever other concepts that they have originating from their art departments. The public cannot go into a school and see art very easily (nor do people go to other districts to do so even during a special event as districts are territorial) but the schools can bring art to the general public. Like Jackson’s recent AP art portfolio show, why not a show from Perry, Hoover, Minerva etc… , not just the works judged into Scholastics each year, but work that is reflective of the whole program. MassMu had that show such as that which I viewed a few months ago, and it was wonderful and refreshing. Let the youth become an active part of the district. Schools could be given a month by lottery system each year (minus the month chosen the year before to keep it fair) and the space is theirs to do whatever. Considering how competitive the districts are with sporting events, let’s see how well the” game on” to outdo the school who came before, let creativity take the field for once. Toss in Montessori, Central Catholic and the nearby colleges and universities and that empty corner could get a refreshing turn around on a continuous basis. How it is funded is not my area of expertise, second in command handles that stuff.
The second idea is for the empty car dealership up by the ArtsinStark offices. How about an antique mall? One of those big consignment deals like Medina? The large doors and ample windows are great for getting big pieces moved around. Nothing commercial like Hartville, I am envision the type where people rent a space or some showcases and try to sell Grandma’s old junk (stuff, heirlooms, collectibles…) not garage sale style, but if you have been to Medina’s on Route 18, you will understand. It is a clean, well organized, well lit, well staffed, full service business. Those places bring in lots of tourists (people love them in Amish country!), there is plenty of nearby parking, turnover of items keeps people coming back, and it would bring some much needed movement to that end of the district. No come and go weekend vendors or any of that parking lot stuff, this is a professionally managed business situation. No retail or craftsy stuff either, only quality consignment antiques, those dealers with the reputation to put authentic items for sale. Usually these establishments are along highways so huge signs can be seen from miles around, but with proper marketing, it could become a destination spot on a string of things to see. When Dad is at the giant juicer getting his fill of pig skin, mom and the girls and go look for vintage clothing and the like, see the galleries, then all meet for a nice dinner downtown. Maybe one of our local investors and long time advocates of historical preservation would bite the bullet and make the necessary renovations.

I look forward to being a regular member of the downtown family and have had such fun just getting the place set up this past couple of weeks. Oh, one more suggestion to the gallery down the street with that nice big lot for parking.…any chance you would consider allowing those local artists in residence to buy a parking pass so to speak for a flat monthly fee (a bit lower than what is available now?) for unlimited parking each month, that way if we have to dash in and out, we don’t have to time it to the drop box cop? I married a Transylvanian-Saxon so does that get me any clout with the whole name thing?

Have a great week everybody and I will post again after First Friday…stop by the new space that night at 2nd April and say hi!

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