Gabe Palmer and Pat Kane are the owners and operators of Pownal's newest business venture, The Studio Club Artworks! gallery on Route 7. [Photo by Sue Bush]
Pownal, Vt. - By 10:15 this morning, Patricia "Pat" Kane and Gabriel "Gabe" Palmer knew the day would be a busy one. Their new Route 7 venture, The Studio Club Artworks! gallery debuted its offerings at 10 a.m. and within 15 minutes, about 14 people had passed through the doors, Kane said.
"We're so happy with the response," she said. "We expected a positive response from Bennington County and we're very pleased that so many of our town neighbors have come in and said that they love the place. And you can tell that they mean it."
Part of the site's charm is a tall, whimsical fire-engine red statue erected at the gallery entrance. The male/female figures are anatomically correct, sort of, and appear to be in the midst of a merry dance step. The statue was purchased at the Rockledge Design Studios and was signed by the artist Garbotz.
The couple purchased the former Century Barn antique shop last year and while they declined to estimate how much money was spent on a massive renovation project, Kane and Palmer emphasized that they did not spend the million dollars reported in two newspaper articles.
"We aren't going to give out any rough estimates but we will say that we did not spend a million dollars," Palmer said.
A Colorful, Clever Inventory
Inside the gallery are dozens of out-of-the-ordinary, colorful, and clever items. Generously-sized purses sold at the shop are crafted from truck-tire inner tubes, a selection of fabric rugs and pillows are sewn from pre-consumer cloth scraps, and a specific line of crackled glassware is made of about 80 percent recycled glass.
A selection of greeting cards designed by North Dakota artist Earlene McNeil Larson is made using scraps of corduroy.
Kane said that artists chosen to supply the gallery earn "extra points" if their creative designs use recycled materials.
Additional items include jewelry, ornamental wooden boxes of various size and shape, taper candles, beeswax candles, and a selection of unique hair barrettes. Also on sale are postcards created by Palmer, who is a commercial photographer. A portion of the building is maintained as a private photography studio, and the couple also have living space within the building.
Kane said that as the renovations got underway, she remained dedicated to preserving "the integrity" of all the interior rooms.
More To Come
The couple isn't finished with the premises; they hope to open a fair-trade shop at the basement level during 2008. A focus on American artists and fair-trade marketing is a priority for the couple, they said.
Palmer and Kane are New York natives who lived much of their lives in Connecticut and spent some time in the Seattle, Washington area.
They were renting business space in Fairfield, Conn. in 2005 and were investigating relocating to a new and permanent site when they discovered the large gray antique shop in southernmost Vermont, Kane said.
"We started looking for where we might want to go with nine months left on our lease," Kane said. "We found this place on our first weekend out, can you believe it? We knew this was the place."
Renovations included new pine floors covered with numerous coats of high-gloss finish, an addition, an exterior fence, landscaping, and driveway paving. The gallery's interior is very well lit through a combination of natural and electric illumination.
Gallery items are priced at a broad range; for example, some glassware is priced at over $70 per item while silver and semi-precious stone rings kept in a display dish by the counter are priced at $14 each. The rings are suitable for use as necklace charms.
The gallery opening continued to draw a steady stream of visitors throughout the afternoon, and Kane and Palmer personally greeted those who entered, and presented those who signed a guest book with a free poster.
Comments from gallery shoppers were positive and Kane received many compliments on the gallery appearance and the variety of items in the shop.
"This is going very well," Kane said. "And this is only the beginning."
The gallery plans to open at 10 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. seven days a week. The Studio Club Artworks! telephone number is 802-823-9308. A www.studioclubartworks.com Internet web site will be up and running in the near future.
Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 413-663-3384 ext. 29.
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This place is very nice and worth a stop and a peek. I "peeked" to the tune of about $150 but the items are very unique!