Tiffany-like lamps hang from the original ornate tin ceiling in the new gallery.
The original wooden floor gleams under lights in the large, airy room.
Artwork adorns gray-carpeted walls.
Actually, the new West Gallery could be a considered a work of art itself.
Area residents can see the new gallery during an artists’ reception from 5-7 p.m. Friday in the Fremont Area Art Association building at 92 W. Sixth St.
Approximately $107,000 was spent on this part of an FAAA renovation of its downtown facility.
The new gallery is situated in the front end of the former Rump’s Furnace & Hardware building, next door to the original FAAA building in downtown Fremont.
“It’s the next phase of the west building expansion,” said Barbara Gehringer, executive director.
Last summer, the FAAA opened a new classroom and studio in the north (back) end of the former Rump’s building. Between three and four classes have been held each month in the studio-classroom since it opened. An open studio, where people gather to work on their art, takes place here each Tuesday.
The ground-level classroom-studio is fully accessible, a benefit especially for artists and guests with mobility issues.
Before the new classroom-studio, classes had to be held either upstairs or down in the basement of the original FAAA building.
Whether or not they’re in a wheelchair, older people or those with disabilities can have difficulty navigating a full set of stairs.
Gehringer said it was less costly to buy and renovate the former Rump’s building than put an elevator in the original FAAA building. And by adding the Rump’s building the art association has doubled the size of its main floor.
A doorway provides access from the Rump’s building into the Dugan Gallery in the original FAAA building.
The $107,000 also included the cost of removing a winding staircase in the center of the Hinds Gallery at the front — or south end — of the FAAA building.
Access remains available via a staircase in the Dugan Gallery — at the north end of that building.
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Removing the Hinds Gallery staircase opens up that room.
“It’s much more conducive to looking at and appreciating the artwork without that staircase in the middle,” Gehringer said.
The recently removed staircase could take visitors up to a gift shop on the original building’s second floor.
But that gift shop — which features works for sale by area artists — will be relocated to street level in the front (south) part of the former Rump’s building.
“We want to make it accessible to everyone and we feel the retail aspect is a better fit on the street,” Gehringer said. “Hopefully, it will draw some traffic in and then they’ll come into the gallery as well.”
Gehringer appreciates the former staircase.
“It served its purpose for a long time and we respect and honor those who built it,” she said.
Gehringer said the new West Gallery also provides more room to display art.
“We’re hoping to bring in some bigger or longer-time-frame exhibits into that space,” Gehringer said.
Currently, art shows are on display for only a month.
“It would be nice to have one space where things stay around a little bit longer so people can have a little more time to experience the art — and maybe come back more than once,” Gehringer said.
The association also is considering the creation of an Artist in Residence program.
“Artists would come in, have a small exhibit of their work, actually work on something while they’re here and perhaps either teach or give a lecture of some sort while they’re in residence,” Gehringer said.
This month, the new gallery will house part of the FAAA’s new “Doing Our pART” exhibit. This exhibit features works by approximately 35 artists, some of whom are nationally and internationally known. The exhibit is designed to lift the spirits of area residents in the wake of devastating spring flooding.
After this inaugural exhibit, the gift shop will be moved to its new street level location.
A celebratory event will take place, probably in October, when the gift shop is opened. The shop will be called the Art Emporium.