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A cooperative of artists who for more than a decade have operated a gallery on Main Street in Shelbyville say they are stunned after finding out Tuesday that their building has been sold and that they would have to vacate in two weeks.
“We know people are going to be shocked, and say, ‘Oh my God, what’s happened?’” said artist Angie Walters, one of eight artists affiliated with The Gallery at Shelby Artists on Main.
The gallery, located at 617 Main St., has been sold, said Sharla McClain, treasurer.
“What happened yesterday [Tuesday] is, we have to be out in two weeks,” McClain said.
“We want the community to know we didn’t go bankrupt or anything like that, we had no plans of leaving anytime soon, but now we have to, because the building has been sold.”
Walters said the building’s new owner, Mary Ann Perry, came into the gallery Tuesday to give them the news.
“She was a very nice lady. She said she plans to open a boutique here, and she wants to be able to move in by the first of the month [November],” Walters said.
That presumably would be in anticipation of the Celebration of Lights, the annual holiday season kickoff that is likely to bring thousands downtown on Nov. 9.
McClain said she thought the building’s owner should have notified them and should have given them more time to relocate.
“It’s business, but to give us that short of a notice to be out, well, you know,” she said.
She added that her October rent has been refunded to her, however.
The building is listed in the Shelby County PVA’s office as belonging to Stivers Land Co. That group’s owner, Randall Stivers, did not respond to phone messages left by The Sentinel-News. Neither did Perry, who lives in Shelbyville.
McClain said she could not disclose the amount of the sale, and updated deed information has not been recorded in the Shelby County Clerk’s office.
The gallery is operated by a cooperative of eight artists, who have been paying for the $550 per month rent on the building, plus utilities, from dues they pay. Artists also take turns volunteering one day a week to staff the facility.
Walters said that the co-op was offered a chance to purchase the building during the 11 years it has rented but that members never could afford the asking price. The group was reimbursed its October rent in exchange for vacating the building.
Roger Green, who rents the building next door, which houses the VFW Post 1179, said he was surprised to hear the building had been sold. He said he had inquired into purchasing the building not long ago, and the owners didn’t express any interest in selling it.
This development continues the churn among businesses along Main Street east to Mount Eden Road, where Governors Square is undergoing significant change, too.
La Cocina de Mama, a new Mexican restaurant that is part of a chain in Louisville but under a different owner, Artemio Rodrigues, opened Saturday at 535 Main St., in the space most recently occupied by Southern Table.
This new restaurant offers a variety of Mexican fare, including vegetarian dishes, beer and wine lists and margaritas and daiquiris.
The Mall at Governors Square is closing, and some elements are moving into the recently vacated and renovated space at 606 Main Street under the name Tipsy Gypsy.
Gallery not disbanding
Both McClain and Walters said they wanted to make it clear that the artists’ co-op is not breaking up.
“We are still a group. We are still Shelby Artists on Main. We haven’t disbanded,” Walters said.
Said McClain: “Our 5013C board is staying operational. They are going to meet this week. They found out about this when I called them last night.”
Howard Griffith, chair of the board, said he plans to call an emergency meeting of the board to discuss the situation.
“We will have a meeting the first of next week, probably Monday, to see what we can do to help,” he said. “At this point, they’re going to be storing the artwork in a safe place and then regroup to see if there’s something out there that we can acquire that would be in a good location.”
Griffith said the board has no funds to work with but will concentrate on trying to find someone else who can help.
“We’re looking for the community to support us in finding a new place on Main Street and maybe even a benefactor to help support the arts in our community,” McClain said. “We want to have a place where we can continue to hold workshops and things like that.”
Donations would also be welcome right now, she said.
“Everything that would be donated to us would help us to get established in a new location, hopefully on Main Street downtown,” she said. “Most communities support the arts, by giving buildings to them at discounts, so they can have an art guild, and display art, and that type of thing, and we would like to have that kind of support in Shelbyville.”
Now that this has happened, she said she wants to set the record straight that the gallery is not closing because of any prior difficulties.
“This just hit us broadside,” she said. “We want people to know we didn’t go bankrupt or anything.”
She added that she and the other artists are trying to keep a positive outlook, hoping something will turn up.
Barbara Ann Callahan, who was attending the gallery’s art class, taught each Wednesday by Don Cull, said she was devastated to hear the facility would be closing.
“I have been coming to classes here for two and a half years now, and I enjoy it very much,” she said. “Especially now that I just lost my father. It’s very therapeutic, and he’s [Cull] a phenomenal teacher.”
McClain said she wanted to urge the public to stop by the gallery today and tomorrow.
“We’d like to invite the public to come and see us since we’re not going to have time to have a closing celebration,” she said. “We will be open until Saturday at four o’clock in the afternoon.”
To donate or for more information, contact McClain at 502-472-6766. Also the gallery’s Web site will remain in operation, at www.shelbyartistsonmain.org, and people may like the gallery on its Facebook page.