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Posts Tagged ‘Market Street’

Tonight, the West End Gallery celebrates its 40th anniversary of selling art on Corning’s lovely Market Street. There is a coinciding opening for a retrospective show of the paintings of the gallery’s co-founder, Tom Gardner. The festivities begin at 4:30 this afternoon with a ribbon cutting and following that there will be music from guitarist Bill Groome, plenty to eat and drink and a few surprises.

I’ve said and written this many times before, but without the West End Gallery I have no idea what or where I would be. The chance to show my work given to me by then gallery owners Lin and Tom Gardner forever changed the direction of my life, opening new doors of opportunity that I couldn’t even imagine in my former life. Ultimately, it changed how I viewed the world and myself.

It’s rare that you can pinpoint a moment in time that alters your life in such a drastic manner that you can see the results that extend from that moment a la It’s a Wonderful Life. But I have such a moment from a day in early 1995 when Tom critiqued my work and Lin asked me to show a few pieces in their next show. Without that moment with them, every good thing that has come to me via my work most likely would have never happened. The numerous paintings that have found their way around the world, the 50 or so solo shows and the many, many wonderful people I have been fortunate to encounter through my work– all of it would probably have never occurred.

I don’t want to even consider what would be without that moment.

In my own way, I say “Thank You” to them every day I enter my studio and take part in the life and work that I so enjoy now. It is all due to that moment and I will never forget that.  Nor will I ever be able to thank them enough.

For forty years, the West End Gallery has given me and so many other artists an opportunity to take a chance on a different life.  It has persisted through the ups and downs of the economy, through booms and busts.  Now under the capable hands of Tom and Lin’s daughter Jesse and her husband, John, it is looking forward even as it celebrates its past tonight. They are working hard every day to make the gallery better in every way.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s another 40 years in the cards for the West End Gallery.

So, if you’re in the area tonight, make your way to the West End Gallery for a celebratory drink, a little bite, some great conversation and some wonderful art and music. If you’ve never been, they’ll make you feel right at home.

I can tell you that from first-hand experience.

Thank you for everything, Lin and Tom and Jesse and John.

I mean that literally.

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Small-Business-SaturdayWatched the news just now and they featured clips from around the nation that had shoppers pushing and shoving one another at department stores early this morning.  Black Friday, of  course.  Scenes of a guy being taken away in a police cruiser after a fight with a lady over a $5 Barbie at some distant Walmart  just don’t seem that unusual on this day.

Good grief, as Charlie Brown might say.

I only mention this because I am urging you to shop locally and shop small this holiday season.  Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday where shoppers are urged to do just that– support their local, small businesses.  It’s a concept that is very important to me as I am a small businessman, as is every artist. I create work that is art first.  But after the creation, the distribution of this out into the world is not unlike that of all other products, requiring packaging, shipping and advertising, among other things.

And every gallery that I sell my work through is a small business and all have been  anchors in their local business communities for many years.  For example, the West End Gallery has been a fixture on historic Market Street in Corning, NY for 38 years now.  They show the work of over 50 local artists and craftspeople– glassworkers, jewelry makers and fine woodworkers.  All are small businesses who buy most of their materials locally and who spend the bulk of their income locally, supporting other local small businesses in both ways.

It is this cycle of small business that gives communities like Corning that  vibrancy makes them beautiful places in which to live.  This is a purely speculative statement but I would guess that most comfortable and livable communities, big and small,  around the country feature a foundation of strong small businesses.   After all, who can best serve the local needs?  The answer is small businesses with a stake in the community.

So, this year, please try to shop locally and shop small.  You are feeding the lifeblood of your community when you do so.  Besides, is a $5 Barbie really worth a beatdown or an arrest?

 

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