Studio 116 anniversary highlights June art walk
FARMINGTON — Three years ago, Karen Ellsbury had never owned or operated her own business before — and didn’t really want to.
But she was also an artist, and almost every artist dreams of someday owning her or his own gallery, she said. So she decided to rent a downtown space, and in the spring of 2013, she opened Studio 116 at 116 W. Main St.
“Life is short,” Ellsbury said last week, explaining her reasoning behind opening the gallery. “Both Patrick (Hazen, her husband and a landscape photographer) and I had made so many mistakes in life, we weren’t really afraid of failing.”
As the gallery prepares to celebrate its third anniversary this weekend during the June art walk, Ellsbury has come to regard her venture as anything but a failure.
“I thought I’d be down there painting, and every once in a while, somebody would come in and give me a break,” Ellsbury said. “But I found that just having a gallery gives you an instant legitimacy ... It (has succeeded) beyond our wildest dreams.”
Ellsbury said Hazen’s photography business has increased exponentially since the gallery opened, and the art classes she offers have been well received.
“They have been a blessing to so many people and given them an (artistic) outlet,” she said. “And our team-building classes have taken off for businesses, even though that was not really in the plan when we started.”
Ellsbury will be celebrating the gallery’s third anniversary with live music by the Zia Chicks, food and other refreshments during the art walk. But the main attraction will be an art auction to raise money for the granddaughter of a childhood friend of hers who is recovering from heart surgery.
“All the funds that are raised will go toward the family and (the girl’s) recovery,” Ellsbury said.
Ellsbury is expecting at least 10 local artists to donate pieces in a variety of media for the auction. In addition to one of her paintings and one of Hazen’s photographs, the auction will feature sterling silver pieces from Bola Tys & Butterflies, a hand-crafted bag by Betty Reed and work by Andrea Landon.
Despite her concern for her friend’s daughter, Ellsbury said the event will have a festive air as her gallery approaches a milestone she would have thought unlikely three years ago.
“We’re pretty happy Farmington has supported us so well through some rough times,” she said. “It’s wonderful to know people love art and appreciate beauty, and it’s an important part of our lives.”
Ten other downtown venues will be taking part in the art walk, including the Artifacts Gallery, 302 E. Main St., which will be presenting the themed show “Glorious Green” by a variety of local artists and paintings by local watercolor artist Michael Bulloch.
Bulloch said most of the 15 to 20 pieces he’ll be showing are new, some of which he painted specifically for this show. A few of them were done in a large format, but Bulloch said most of the paintings are small with an eye toward making them more affordable.
“Besides that, nobody has big, empty walls anymore,” he said, laughing. “Most of the time, a smaller piece is all you can hang.”
The collection he’ll be showing doesn’t follow a particular theme, he said, although much of the newer work was completed at a time in his life when Bulloch said he was wrestling with feelings of loneliness.
Those feelings may not be readily apparent to the viewer, as many of the paintings are fairly cheerful looking because of the color choices, he noted. But they are reflected in some of the subject matter, including a large, dilapidated windmill and an old farmhouse, and such titles as “Forgotten,” “Abandoned” and “Broken.”
Bulloch said he is excited about showing the new work because he was experimenting with spraying an acrylic finish on his watercolors, which are painted on paper. He said the advantage of doing that is that the work doesn’t have to be mounted under glass, and the finish gives the work the appearance of having been done on canvas.
Bulloch said he experimented with that approach a couple of years ago when he was working on a portrait his sister had commissioned from him, but he has not done it on a large scale until now. He bought the frames for these works with the idea of using that approach on all of them.
“It is relatively new for me, although I’ve seen other people do it,” he said, explaining that the paper the paintings are done on is mounted and stretched before the finish is applied. “I am very pleased with the results. I like the fact that it’s not behind glass. One of the things people don’t like about work under glass is that it reflects light.”
That change in approach also made the experience of completing these paintings an enjoyable one for the artist.
“I had a really good time,” Bulloch said. “Even though I was dealing with some serious issues, I had a great time painting them. They seemed to almost paint themselves. Sometimes you end up struggling more than other times, but these seemed to really come together.”
At the Three Rivers Art Center, 123 W. Main St., the jewelry of Lou Mancel will be on display during the art walk. Her work is described as nature based with a focus on geometric designs. Mancel says she uses elements such as stones and metals, and such techniques as intricate saw work, stamping and riveting to push the envelope into bas relief and sculpture designs.
The work of artists from the N.A.T.I.V.E. Project will be on display at 119 W. Main St., while the Wal-Art Gallery at 422 W. Main St. will feature artwork, refreshments and live music by the Deadbeats.
Orchard Park at the corner of Orchard Avenue and Main Street will welcome Michael McNealy and Bo York, who will be showing their work and playing music.
Artwork also will be featured at Brown's Shoe Fit Co. at 124 W. Main St. and at the Chile Pod at 121 W. Main St. An art walk map can be obtained at any participating venue.
Mike Easterling is the A&E editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4610.
If you go
What: The quarterly art walk for June
When: 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, June 10
Where: Eleven venues in downtown Farmington