The year anniversary of the gallery is a couple months away, and I am sitting here at the desk, looking around. I’ve rearranged the furniture at least six times. The bookshelf is now, after a small world-tour, back in the spot I’d originally planned for it. Most of the plants are still alive though there’s one on death’s door that I’m trying to revive at home.
I’m not sure what I imagined owning a gallery would be like, but I’m pretty sure I had some fantasies of constant sales and maybe even paintings that would “fly off the shelves.” I also entertained my fair share of fears about no one being interested in it at all, dust collecting on those bookshelves I’ve moved so many times.
What’s surprised me most has nothing to do with shelves. Someone just left the gallery who was visiting for the first time. We got to talking and she told me about losing her husband at a young age and later her mother, and it occurred to me how many people have come in and shared their stories. Scratch that. It’s more than that. People have shared their actual grief. With me. Who is not a therapist or healer of any kind. But by what feels like some miracle, a little painting will speak to them and, well, in all my imaginings I forgot to imagine that part. The part where I get to make a real human connection. Where something in me speaks to something in someone else and vice versa.
At our last after hours party, I made some hummingbird coloring pages in case any kids wanted to make art. In case. Ha. In my experience kids always want to make art because they have not yet learned to care whether or not it is “good.” And make art they did. One little boy told me that I forgot to put the second wing on the bird; he was not having my explanation that it was behind the other wing and just out of view. You’re right, I told him. Please, add the second wing, and he did. It was beautiful.
Later, to end the night, our talented musician, Cody Roth, played a slow song and couples quickly grabbed their partners and headed to the make-shift dance floor, ie, the parking lot of the shopping center where my gallery is located. I may have cried.
This is not what I thought having a gallery would be like. It’s better.
I still have a lot of work to do; we are just getting started. But any time things are slow, and I get discouraged, I think of all the unlikely conversations I’ve had, the stories I’ve been trusted with, the kids who’ve made art with abandon, the slow dancing in the parking lot.
Written by Denise Hopkins
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