Back in July 2011, I spotted a very nice retail space for rent on Main Street in Jasper Georgia. At the time I was working at a local pc repair shop and trying to get my art off the ground. I had already been in a few galleries and selling art online. The location was decent, small foothills town that did get a good bit of tourist traffic but I had no idea how to run a business or gallery. Like in many other situations, I did not let my lack of experience stop me.
After I decided to open a gallery at this location, I had two issues, money to fund it and time to work it. Since I had to work as a tech 9 to 5 to make a living and cover the rent of this gallery. luckily I have a brother who would cover the gallery during the hours I worked. As far as money, I used all my art sales savings and cashed out my stocks to get startup capital.
The first month was spent working tech job 9 to 5, then painting and setting up the gallery. Along with looking for artists to help fill the 2500 square foot space. While getting the gallery together I put a looking for artists sign in the window. I hoped to get enough artists interested to halfway fill the empty space, long story short I didn’t….
To get the gallery ready for open, it had to be brought up to code. The building was as they say in Jasper “a country mile away from code”. So being a tech, artist and on a small budget I had to improvise. As stated before the gallery was 2500 square foot but it also had a basement the was 2500 square foot as well. Electrical system was from the 1970s or older. Plumbing, who knows how old it was.
So the day came to get inspected and see if the building was up to code. By that time I had made enough changes and distracted the inspector when he was viewing some of the questionable parts of the building. Being a nude artists has its benefits at times. For example if you put a full nude 20×30 inch print up next to a questionable wiring area, the wiring somehow gets overlooked. Who knew!
To fund the gallery and make it self sustainable, I decided to offer two choices to artists in the gallery. Pay a rental fee for the space and keep all sells money from the artwork or a commission fee for artwork sold. Artist who rented space could choose where they wanted the artwork placed and commission artists the gallery decided. This meant current artists and myself would place the art where we thought it best fit. The art was also sold online while in the gallery. The good part of being a tech is all web work was done in house.
So the opening date came and the gallery only had a handful of artist in it. Maybe 75 pieces of art including my own. as you can see from the images above we had talented artists but a lot of blank wall space. However, it was an art gallery and luckily it was next to the best restaurant in jasper, 61 main. Side note: while running the gallery I ate at 61 main so much I got an employee discount. Jena the owner tried to get local farm produce and eco friendly packaging for carry out. If you are ever in Jasper I highly recommend you try 61 main.
Part 2 is after we opened and the crazy shit that followed.