To say Pat and Patsy Thackery have an affinity for downtown Urbana would be an understatement. The couple not only reside within a stone’s throw of the Monument Square District, but they’re responsible for bringing a piece of Tuscany to the downtown area through their Café Paradiso Italian restaurant and helping to revive one of the most iconic businesses in all Champaign County – Carmazzi’s General Store.
From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on June 3, the Thackerys will hold a grand opening ceremony for their newest business – The Studio & Fine Arts Gallery – a venture aimed at helping local artists make a name for themselves while attracting new visitors to the downtown area.
“We wanted to come up with something that would help the economic growth and development of downtown,” said Mr. Thackery, who also serves on Urbana City Council. “Patsy and I got together and remarked how the city didn’t have an art gallery other than Mike Major’s studio that’s open on a regular basis and no place offering fine art lessons.”
Thackery added that since he is “all the time looking into ridiculous things” to scratch his entrepreneurship itch or what he calls “a disease for which there is no cure,” he decided to latch onto the couple’s idea for a studio/gallery and run with it.
Located at 119 Scioto St., the former site of World Wide Logistics Solutions, The Studio & Fine Arts Gallery will operate more like a “co-op,” instead of the Thackerys calling all the shots.
“It’s really not our gallery,” Thackery said. “It’s really the artists’ business. They will be staffing it, while as the landlord, I will simply be taking commission on each sale. I won’t, however, be charging a monthly rent for any gallery space.”
Considering this isn’t the couple’s first rodeo when it comes to operating a business, Thackery said during the planning stages, he decided in order to do it right, he needed to put together a management team. Led by Thackery, the team includes fellow businessman Rich Colvin and local artist Debbie Loffing.
“We are going to kind of oversee it and make sure it’s being done the way the community needs it to be done,” Thackery said.
As the name suggests, The Studio & Fine Arts Gallery features a place for individuals to test out their artistic abilities and also a place for artists to showcase and sell their works of art.
“What we are doing here more than anything else is we are trying to get the young artist, or an artist who is trying to get into the business, the place and facilities to do that,” Thackery said. “Nothing would make me happier than somebody comes in here, starts selling some art, makes a name for him or herself, and they end up opening their own studio or business some place else.”
He added everything featured in the gallery will be juried to “keep a certain quality of art on display.”
Currently, 13 artists have joined the business and will either be selling art, teaching classes or doing both.
The artists, Thackery said, are skilled in a variety of mediums, including clay, ceramics, photography, leaded glass, stained glass jewelry, etc.
While the front half of the building is the gallery, the back half features two working studios – one for clay and ceramics and the other for classes where a soldering iron may be the tool of choice for creations like stained glass jewelry.
To give the public a chance to test their artistic skills or learn a new hobby, the co-op of artists will use the studios to teach a variety of classes. Each class will have a set fee based on various factors, such as materials used.
“We are going to focus on kid classes this summer to give the youth something to do while school is out,” Thackery said.
For information on classes, call 937-652-2787, visit The Studio & Fine Arts Gallery on Facebook, or stop by the business during normal business hours (11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday).
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-508-2304 or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.