Informal art galleries pop up all over Charleston

by Judy E. Hamilton, Staff writer

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Informal art galleries are popping up all over Charleston in places you might not expect — like your doctor’s office, lawyer’s office, accountant’s office, tailor’s shop, favorite neighborhood sandwich shop or nightclub.

When art is displayed in nontraditional spaces, it has perks for the business and the artist. Art brings people to the business and makes the space more beautiful and interesting.

The trend helps artists reach a new base of potential buyers who might not otherwise see their work. It also gives them an opportunity to display their art without the commission fee usually associated with a formal art gallery — typically about 50 percent. Plus, getting gallery representation can be difficult, especially for those early in their career who haven’t yet established a following of admirers.

Doctor’s offices

“We display the art for a couple of reasons,” said Dr. David J. Patton, a specialist in obstetrics and gynecology, in a recent interview from his offices at 1003 Oakhurst Drive. “It’s a nice way to put artwork on our walls, and it’s a great avenue for artists to show their art. It benefits both of us. We get artwork and they get exposure.

“Our local artists do great stuff, and I want to promote that. We don’t take any commission. We’re just happy to have it on our walls,” Patton said of the exhibit by the Allied Artists of West Virginia.

He added that there are a couple of pieces in the collection that have really caught his eye and he is considering purchasing.

Julie Hamilton, a South Charleston dentist and artist, is treasurer of the Allied Artists and orchestrated the informal art gallery in Patton’s offices, with the help of his office manager, Nathan Kelly.

“Nathan went online and found Allied Artists and emailed us. I went there and measured and met with Dr. Patton. We have 15 artists who are participating, and the installation was done in an hour and a half,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton said she is grateful for the opportunity to have the art showcased and hopes it will raise awareness about the talent of local artists. She noted that several pieces of art in the exhibit have been sold.

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