A half-dozen Crozet-area artisans have formed company and will open a gallery Oct. 4 in the small purple house that formerly housed Bark Avenue dog grooming salon to retail their creations.
“I think it’s a good location and I think the community will support us,” said Kathleen Mistry, who has been organizing the effort. “We have the Crozet Arts and Crafts Festival, but a lot of us are here all year. We’re building our community and hoping to turn Crozet into more of a destination.
“I was sitting in Fardowners [restaurant],” she recalled, “and I thought, ‘We ought to have our own place here.’ As soon as I would mention it to people, they would say yes. It’s definitely the right time for our town.
“The timing is everything. A group of us tried last year, but it fell through. [Former Bark Avenue proprietress] Patti Siehien is one of us. We pulled together a meeting and since then it’s been go-go-go to make it happen. I saw the light bulbs go off in Patti when we talked about needing a location. We’re going to leave the building purple. We may put “The Little Purple House” on our logo.
“We’re a limited liability corporation, not a co-op. Our name is Crozet Artisan Creative Gallery and Gifts. None of us could have done it alone. The holidays are coming, so we’re trying to get our stock up and get this business going, so we’ve been busy.
“We’ll be open late on Fridays and Saturdays for the Three Notch’d Grill customers. Locals know you can park in the back, but we’ll put up a small sign about it, too.
The six principals are backed up by another dozen artisans who are not part of the company but will contribute their creations and, in some cases, time to the gallery. Among the main artisans are: Kathryn Matthews (painter and custom map artist); Kathleen Mistry (wildlife painter and silversmith); Roslyn Nuesch (Two Owls Pottery); Trina Player (Player Pottery); Gillian Ruffa (wearable art and fiber artist); Sarah Canady Schultz (jeweler and silversmith); Patti Siehien (paintings and clay sculptures); Meg West (landscape oil paintings); and Lisa O. Woods (wood carvings and paintings). This is the core group that will staff the gallery’s open hours.
“We’ll be all locally made crafts. We’re bringing in artists to fill the gaps, glass workers, photographers, furniture makers and more painters. We may add more artisans later. We’ll see how the space works. I didn’t think we’d have trouble finding people. This is something that’s come together fast.
“The Crozet artist community is well established,” said Mistry. “This is saying, ‘Here we are. This is where we live and work.’ We want a place to sell. We’re excited to see what comes next after the streetscape is finished. This community is growing, but it still has its roots. I have a good feeling. I want to be part of what’s happening in downtown.
“People are coming through [Crozet] on the weekends. They go to the wineries and the breweries. Now they can go to a gallery, too. What we need now is a couple of nice inns. Visitors need to be able to spend the weekend.”
The gallery will host an official grand opening reception Saturday, November 1, from 6 to 8 p.m. There will be live music by Ragged Mountain String Band, door prizes and refreshments, and the artists will be on hand.
Regular hours will be Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays from 11a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.
“We may close on Sundays after the holidays,” said Mistry. “We’re hoping for tourism business, so we want to open on weekends.”
“It’s an organic development as a business,” said Mistry. “It has a feel for the community. I’m in business with neighbors I know and trust. There’s a buzz in Crozet. I feel it. I’m proud to live here.”