Monday, June 7, 2010

Diary of a reluctant art gallery owner, Chapter 3

Why reluctant?

Do you ever get hair-brained ideas? (What’s the origin of that idiom, 'hair-brained' anyway?) I get crazy notions all the time. If you love me, you smile indulgently and sing praises for my visionary mind and entrepreneurial spirit, perhaps while secretly thinking I'm nuts. Want to know the truth? I think those of us who are wired like that just don’t get scared as early as the rest of you. I’m like the kid who climbs the tree too high and then realizes, “Oh my, I could die if I fall down.” Too late now Sherlock, you’re 100 feet up and out on a branch that’s swinging. Now, looking down, the adrenaline starts pumping through the system so you can accomplish the unfathomable but completely necessary, things that you ordinarily would never dream you could do. The need to survive is a strong motivator, yes?

It sounds riskier than it is. Naïve? Oh, yes to some degrees. Guilty. However I would be untruthful if I said I didn’t carefully consider and calculate how to successfully climb that tree. It’s just that I sometimes find myself surprised and terrified by where my actions have placed me. Maybe a better way to view it is, I’m ok while I’m climbing, but every now and again I look down, see where I am, see the risk of falling and then I’m terrified.

So back to ‘reluctant’. Go back in time about five years or so. I saw this lovely little gallery in Philadelphia while visiting an exhibit in which Melanie was included. It was basically a little row sort of like some things looming (do you see where this is heading?) and on the ride home I said to the ever loving and indulgent spouse, “We could do that you know.” Maybe he’s indulgent or he's just as slightly mad as me, but he agreed we could and that’s as far as it goes.

Fast forward closer to the present when the spouse and I began cruising Reading on Sunday afternoons after church. First it was him trying to convince me to live downtown (which we now actually do) and then it was both of us remembering that remark five years earlier about the row in Philly and thinking, “If we could find just the right property near Goggleworks, we could rent to other artists and Melanie could move her equipment out of her home. It would be a good investment for us and for Reading."

As usual, one thing has led to another and to another. I never meant for the gallery to weigh so prominently in the picture. While I was an avid proponent of owning and renting some commercial space, I initially saw the wonderful community being integral with the vision, and the gallery holding moderate importance. I resisted references to us being a gallery for sometime but indeed we have become that and more. I never envisioned it becoming so central to who and what we are. However, I still prefer the term "community" better because that is what we are trying to build: a community for the artist, the hobbyist and the lovers of art. A community that provides a place where everyone gets to do what they love to do, to have their work appreciated and to make some income from its creation.

Reluctant? Not so much anymore…. But I’d be lying to say I’m not still looking down from that branch from time to time with my head spinning and my tummy rolling. It’s not good to look down. I’m going to try to keep looking up and out.


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