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It’s Daylight Savings Time…

…KEEP SMALL BUSINESSES FROM GOING DARK

I overheard a conversation the other day between two gentlemen who were discussing the early demise of a neighborhood eatery.  Being familiar with the little shop I listened as one of the men regaled upon the other how the subject business was in operation for just a little more than a year before it folded.

The man commented on the amount of money and labor that was put into restoring the old building to its former glory, updating the interior and preserving the exterior. He spoke of the ample availability of parking and how nice it was to have that little family oriented shop in the neighborhood.

It was  shame that the shop had such a short-lived existence. How sad it was when it quietly closed its doors.  And after all that was said he admitted that he himself had never set foot inside.

At this point I stopped listening, reminiscing instead about a little art gallery that was located just down the street from that small shop, the only art gallery in town.  It offered a myriad of original jewelry, pottery, sculptures, photography and paintings ranging from $30 to $3,000 – a little something for everyone.  The gallery flourished for the first year and then put up a really good fight midway through the second year before it too succumbed to a failing economy.

I remembered also, how amazed I was at the number of people who stopped in during those final days to say, “I pass by here every day and this is my first time in.  Sorry to hear that you are closing,” or “I live just a few doors down but I’ve never been in,” and  “It was really nice to have a gallery in town, it’s a shame you have to close.”  “I’m so sorry I missed your artist receptions, I heard they were really nice.”

The shame of course is that those people who dislike big box stores and thought these small businesses were good for the neighborhood, those who looked through the windows but rarely or never set foot inside, those who saw the value after the fact, are the very people who could have made a difference.

Thankfully for that little gallery the “closing” was converted into a move to a new location.  We have yet to see our heyday as we continue to struggle to balance the scales between “need” and “want” in a tough economic environment, but we push forward and for now I still own the only art gallery in town. Check us out at www.handyconcepts.com or email us to ask about our payment plan or gift cards at info@handyconcepts.com.  We support the American Diabetes Association and the Disabled American Veterans by donating 5% of all art sales to either organization.

If there is a small business in your neighborhood give it a fighting chance before you allow it to go dark. The power is in your hands.

PS. Remember, November 30, 2013 is Small Business Saturday.

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Picture Perfect

The first computer I ever worked with back in 1978 (showing my age here) was a behemoth mass of metal and buttons and switches, and took up the space of an entire room. 33 years later all of that technology can fit in the palm of my hand. Truly technology has brought us a very long way and for the most part that’s a good thing but for some, having such powerful technology in the palm of their hands sometimes gives them a false sense of their true abilities, or lack thereof.

Case in point: owning a digital camera does not make one a photographer. Point and shoot is wonderful technology for people who simply want to remember a vacation or capture images of their children in their Halloween costumes. Those are photos to be cherished for sure, but they belong in the family album and not in a gallery. 

Photo by Ansel Adams

A photographer on the other hand knows a little something about composition, and lighting, and directing the viewer’s eye to the focal point of the photograph. They are aware of brightness and contrast, backlighting, and color casts. Because they know these things they put a lot more work into a photograph than merely “pointing and shooting.” And also because they know these basics, very good photographers can often get away with point and shoot technology and still come away with fantastic photographic art.

"American Gothic" by Gordan Parks

Ansel Adams didn’t just take pretty pictures of landscapes. Gordon Parks didn’t justshoot photos of people. They were true storytellers. Their photos brought tears to viewer’s eyes. Their photos moved people to action. These artists captured atmosphere, height and depth, peace, love and despair, and hope with the click of the camera’s shutters. They drew you in and forced you to see, not just look. Their photos had soul. One could feel the enormity of the mountains and step into the valley and lose oneself in the sheer vastness of it all.  One could be overwhelmed by despair and feel great pride all at once from a single image. Anyone who viewed their photographs could lose themselves; become part of the landscape, part of the argument, part of the movement.

Before you approach a gallery, take a little time and study some of the old masters whose photographs are so much more than pretty pictures. Then take another glance at how things are looking through your lens.

“Wood” you be mine?

As we near the end of the month of August my eye wanders around the gallery and I am drawn to the wood. Such a versatile medium to work with. There are soft woods, hard woods, light woods, dark woods. Rough and smooth. Young and old. Wood reminds me of people. There are so many different varieties and colors and personalities. Wood has attitude. It has character, and if you pair a good piece of wood with an artist it gains a soul.

Full Count

"Full Count" Driftwood sculpture by Bernie Houston

Decidedly, Bernie Houston is a gallery favorite. His driftwood sculptures are definite crowd pleasers. Just the mere mention of driftwood and people are oohing and aahing over the artistry that is borne of nature.

 As when we were children and looked up at the sky and the clouds turned into horses, and faces, and lions, and ships, Houston has mastered the art of bringing out the natural imagery inherent in the wood itself. Bernie’s use of finished and unfinished wood is so appropriate to the medium and quite alluring.

wood chest

Hand-crafted Rosewood, Cherry, and Tiger Maple chest by Felix Milner

Then there is the exquisite craftsmanship of Felix Milner.  His hand-crafted fine furniture are truly works of art.  Though the top drawer is fitted to hold the family’s silverware, this lovely chest lends itself to fit-in in any room. Each drawer is felt-lined in black. Constructed of rosewood, cherry, and tiger maple with decorative inlay this functional treasure is one to pass down from generation to generation. It will one day suddenly become a marvelous antique.

From representational, to literal functionality, to the abstract – there are three pieces of rain tree wood lounging in the jewelry case. Raintree woodLight in color and weight, the smoothed exteriors turn to rough and jagged interiors but with a simplicity that is sheer magic. From them I get a very calming effect and I think I can actually hear the rain. 

All are available for purchase and can be seen at the gallery at Kerry’s Green and on the website at www.handyconcepts.com. Do take just a little time to bask in the wonder of it all and perhaps choose a piece and ask, “Wood you be mine?”

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