Opening Night - Neal Lemery
The last few days had been a blur of activity at our new gallery. The empty room was cleaned, windows washed, and the sidewalk swept.
One daunting task was to repaint a portion of a wall that was a ghastly dark teal, and transform it into a showcase for our beautiful art work. Three coats of paint later, and the room seemed to be transformed with a new sense of brightness and warmth.
Moving day arrived, and an enthusiastic crew began to carry our pop-up collection from our previous site across the street. Street construction had slowed traffic to a standstill, so we paraded our art work between stopped cars and trucks, occasionally chatting with the idled drivers and their passengers.
It was quite a parade, and included easels and our prayer flag collections.
The empty storefront windows soon blossomed with a variety of art, and the walls sparkled with a large variety of paintings, prints, sketches, and encaustics.
It was a gallery!
Sunflower Flats brought a gorgeous arrangement of peonies, brightening up the whole gallery.
We set up a table for food and coffee, as company was coming. It was the night of the annual Cork and Brew festival downtown, and we were the last stop on the tour of local businesses that were serving food and drink to 250 patrons. Each of them carried a passport to be stamped by each participating merchant, and we were the drop off station, the last stop.
A beautiful, and generous, gift basket was proudly displayed at the gallery, and passport holders were entering a drawing, each hoping to be the lucky winner.
At 4 p.m., we flipped the “open” sign for the first time and put our Art Accelerated sandwich board out on the sidewalk. We were open!!
Nervously, we found our cashbox and figured out how to swipe a credit card and write a receipt. Would anyone come?
Indeed, they came. Old friends, people walking by, and other merchants came by to check us out and look at our beautiful art and books by local authors. There were several displays of art cards and a bin bursting with a variety of art work.
The room filled with happy patrons, checking out the art, and meeting our artists. Great conversations and reunions with old friends were going on all over the place as the evening progressed.
Excitedly, we made our first sale, and then another, and another. There were smiles and laughter, and lots of fun.
Finally, the last of the happy Cork and Brew patrons ambled out of the gallery and it was time to shut the door. 196 people had crossed our threshold, leaving with memories of a good experience and our new brochure.
“We’ll be back,” we heard again and again. “This is so beautiful. What a great addition to downtown.”
I put my tired feet up and contemplated the day. I still had a little paint on my hand from that last coat of paint, and a sore finger from missing a picture hanger with a hammer when we were hanging the last few paintings on the wall.
We were open, and all I could do was smile. We were on our way!
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