Friday, June 12, 2009

Running an art store: an art?

In this post, I continue my conversation with Gloria, the owner of Court Street Collection (in the picture below):

Challenge of running an art store

When I asked Gloria what was the most difficult part of managing an art store, she said economy is posing a challenge and she is trying her best to keep the business afloat. She also said that the local community has been very supportive, especially since the downturn, and has been helping the store by buying locally.

But I saw Gloria doing her bit for the community too.The two times I was there in her store, she gave away two art pieces for local auctions, proceeds of which would be given to charities in the area. The requests typically come from OU students, representing various on-campus organizations.

Artists and the OU connection

Gloria knows most of the local artists very well and has developed rapport with them over the past number of years. The artists display their work in the store and get paid when the art work gets sold. This kind of an arrangement is not very common in the market and is a testimony to late Sue’s and Gloria’s goodwill among the local artists.

Gloria went to Ohio University between 1970-75 and majored in English. At that time she also took the glass blowing program offered at OU.

Most of the artists who showcase their work in her store are more than 50 years old and have settled in this area. Gloria said many of the artists who went to school at OU in the 70s,’ decided to live in and around Athens. At that time the land in and around Athens was inexpensive and they found Athens to be a fun place.

I wonder what has happened since. (Probably I should talk to someone in the OU art school.)

Selecting an art piece

I was curious as to how she picks artworks for the store, particularly when the customers always expect to find something unique . She said she looks up the internet,travels and reads magazines to keep abreast of new trends and new artists. Sometimes the artists test their new creative ideas by exhibiting one or two pieces in the store, to gague audience reception.

Some of the popular art pieces in her store are stain glass works of John Matz (Sunflower Glass) and ceramic cats by Mary Dewey (The Dewey Studio). Their artwork is exclusvely (in Athens) available at Court Street Collection.

Ceramic cat by Mary Dewey, sitting on top of a cabinet in the store

Gloria's favorite

What was her favorite art piece? I asked her in the end. She showed me a basket of thin silver wires. At first I didn’t quite understand the magic that basket could create but when Gloria held it in the sunlight it shimmered, reflecting the sunlight, and looked incredible. It is made by a local artist, Cindy Luna, a good friend of Gloria. Cindy sells her art all around the country.

Shimmering basket by Cindy Luna

Being an artist herself, Gloria brings a unique vision to the art store. Coupled that with the community spirit, Court Street Collection is an important stroke on the local art canvas.

And one of my favorites !

I will end this post with a picture of one of my favourites: sea salt lamps. And besides looking pretty, they are also supposed to soak up the negative energy around..(Don't know how true is that?) These lamps are not locally made though.

My favorite lamps, sitting pretty on the shelf


  1. The basket is beautiful! What an interesting arrangement that the shop acts like a gallery displaying exploratory new items.

    I think it would be a great idea to talk to OU's art department. I wonder how big of a role it plays in the region's art and how local connect to it (did you all graduate from OU?) How about the many international artists at the OU art department. I know of at least two Latin American students there who have done interesting projects. One was displayed in Nelsonville. Both worked on the mural painted on the outside of a house on Mill street.

  2. All the artists I have spoken to so far had an OU connection. Either they were students or faculty at the OU art school at some point in time. But the interesting bit is unlike the students in the 70s not many younger students seem to settle here anymore. I have to talk to someone in the department if that's in fact the trend.

  3. i like both the shimmering basket and your favourite lamps. i feel they are both concept articrafts with the simplest design and high function.
    PS: I hope i can buy a house and settle in Athens too. How simple life was for students in 70s'. Maybe i will come back, and you too Ash~

  4. Hey Jo,

    You pointed out the greatest advantages of the two artifacts. Simple is so beautiful sometimes! And yeah, we might come back to Athens..don't know about the settling part but a trip here after 20 years from now would be so much fun...Can't imagine how Athens would look like after 2 decades!