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Galleries strive for more than just a pretty space: makeovers are about functionality and looks.

There comes a time in every gallery's life when a makeover is necessary. Whether it happens is another matter.

This month, gallery directors from around the country who have made it happen, discuss their makeover experiences in this first part of a two-part series. The participants appear below:

Darrell McGarvey, manager of the Boulder City Art Guild Gallery in Boulder City, NV, about 20 miles from Las Vegas, and where a refurbished hotel serves as the gallery.

Michael Schlicting, owner of the Hawk Creek Gallery, Neskowin, OR, where a made-over one-room schoolhouse is the gallery. In case you're wondering where Neskowin is located, the beachside resort village is on the north-central Oregon coast, about 80 miles from Portland.

Kevin Rouse, co-owner of KEVRO Gallery in Delray Beach, FL, where, with his fiance and business partner, Deborah Sullivan, Rouse is doing a total makeover on a recently acquired property just down the street from the gallery space that Rouse and Sullivan currently rent. Rouse says their mantra these days is "From ghetto to gallery."

Paula Coleman is co-director/curator of P.C.O.G. Gallery, one of the "grassroots businesses" in the "New Harlem" in Manhattan. There, Coleman (left), who has a business/graphics design background, and her co-director, Ousmane Gueye (right), a sculptor born in Dakar, Senegal, are an important part of the "Harlem renaissance." Says Coleman, "We maintain that the vibes from the Harlem renaissance are being archived on our floors." (More on this later).

Please provide a brief description of your gallery in terms of inventory, clients, years in business, how your gallery is different from those in the area, etc.

Paula Coleman: Since 2001, the same year that Harlem's revitalization began, the P.C.O.G. Gallery has been one of the area's premiere destinations for contemporary art. Our inventory is a mix of fine art paintings, sculpture, drawings and photography by well-known and emerging American and African artists.

Our clients are diverse, with about 30 percent of them being from the Harlem community. They include mega music mogul Jay-Z; Asake Bomani, former owner of Bomani Gallery in San Francisco; and Rite Ewing, who is one of the partners of Hue-Man Bookstore in Harlem. She is also the ex-wife of former New York Knicks star, Patrick Ewing.

In the Harlem area, there are many galleries in brownstones, but just a few in commercial street level spaces. The P.C.O.G. Gallery differs from these galleries and others because we are avant-garde and our physical space is creatively raw with many experimental and funky offerings.

The renovation and excavation of brownstones and buildings associated with the revitalization of Harlem filled dumpsters with thousands of old, discarded wood beams that were being discarded. We pulled the beams from the dumpsters, and dragged them five blocks to our gallery. The wood from these beams now cover the three elevated spaces, hence the explanation for the earlier quote, "We maintain that the vibes from the Harlem renaissance are being archived on our floors."

Our space totals 1,500-plus square feet, and is divided by elevations into three open-studio spaces in the gallery's northwest, southwest and northeast corners of the gallery. The remainder of floor space, which is not elevated, is made of depression-era [faux] art deco stone floor. The floor was painted in some areas with a brown floor varnish, raw in others, and completely covered with polyurthene.

Darrell McGarvey: The Boulder City Art Guild was formed by a group of artists in 1976. The group grew steadily and opened a gallery in 1980 in a small building donated to them by a local real estate office. In 1996 four non-profit groups bought the Boulder Dam Hotel out of bankruptcy and began to refurbish the building. Hotel rooms became retail areas on the first floor, including the art gallery and museum. The second floor served as office spaces until the ground level was completed. Then the rooms on the second floor were completed as the only rooms for rent to afford some income for operating expenses.

Kevin Rouse: KEVRO, is an artist-owned gallery of six years in downtown Delray Beach. After renting for six years, my fiance and business partner, Deb Sullivan, also an artist, and I are realizing our dream of ownership, having purchased an industrial compound just down the street from our current location. The new location is in a recently leveled area poised for explosive growth.

Our gallery differs in that we rarely exhibit traditional forms of art. The work we exhibit is contemporary and large in scale. We feature our own works, which include large-format black and white photography; abstract and impressionistic oil paintings; and 3D installations by KEVRO (myself). Art by DAS (Deb Sullivan) include works that pay homage to Mondrian, video installations, light art and original poetry. We've also made art films that are shown on plasmas and projectors. Our first 'short,' titled "If Only I Were a Tree," was selected by the Palm Beach International Film Festival and was screened at Muvico in West Palm Beach in April 2006.

Now with the available workshop space, a new door opens for our expansion into sculpture. (Piet Mondrian was a Dutch artists who lived from 1872 to 1944. Mondrian's work--intersecting lines at right angles and planes in primary colors--influenced the development of abstract art.) Our list of clients is broad--from the local historical society to Fortune 500 companies. And our collectors are local, national and international.

Michael Schlicting: Hawk Creek Gallery is in its 29th season. The gallery features paintings that I've created and works by Tyler Schlicting, my son. We also carry jewelry, sculpture and ceramic pieces. The gallery is located in the Oregon coastal village of Neskowin, an upscale vacation and second home destination resort town. Our clients are a mix of homeowners and tourists traveling the Oregon coast. There are no other galleries within 10 miles in either direction.

Please discuss the nature of your "makeover" project.

Paula Coleman: The nature of the project was to convert an office area into a retail store, which will be independent from the gallery's exhibition space. In this space, we will feature eclectic functional and decorative art--art books, prints, furniture, vases--to name a few.

Darrell McGarvey: We have made several changes along the way--the most obvious and helpful is the color of wall paint. A dark forest green was chosen for its neutrality and non-reflective nature. The original white walls reflected the track lighting with large circles of light. The green paint does not produce the same problem making it more pleasant to view the artwork. The makeover itself consisted primarily of the installation of slatwall--a fiberboard panel with slots along its length that accommodate hangers for paintings. The slots are filled with black inserts made for that purpose. The fiberboard also provides strength as well as additional insulation.

Kevin Rouse: Making over our newly acquired property is our largest collaborative canvas to date. The 1960s buildings are industrial-style with concrete poured roofs and 12-foot ceilings. The 7,833 square feet of land is located in the central business district/central core of downtown Delray Beach and is surrounded by a barbed-wire, chain-link fence. The front art deco building will be the contemporary gallery and the back building will be an art workshop. Both buildings are built to the perimeter corners of the property leaving a large (1,200 square feet) open yard, where we intend on creating a Zen-like rock garden and ecological art with cooling misters and recycled boat sails overhead to serve as shade awnings. The space will serve as a meeting space to socialize and paint.

Inside the buildings, we are embracing the industrial urban look of raw concrete block walls and concrete floors (we've repaired and polished). We've patched, grinded and painted the inside walls all white, including the ceilings. The conduit is exposed. The galvanized AC ducts are exposed. We are artistically covering the interior doors in stainless flashing. The lighting will be a low-voltage, suspended cable-lighting system that I designed for our home, with clear-coated stainless, chunky hardware, spots and transformers. The 'walls' will be Miami's Delano style of white gauzy floor flowing curtains suspended from the ceiling. We will also install large silver grommets to allow for sliding the fabric throughout the gallery. The idea here is three-fold. First, the moveable 'walls' of fabric will change the shape of the big box at whim. Second, it will give the gallery aesthetic appeal. And third, it will reduce the interior echo. The security system will be state-of-the-art, and we'll have a high-tech media environment. We'll also incorporate two motorized light boxes to allow us to rotate up to 27 images.

Michael Schlicting: The building originally was the one-room schoolhouse for the area and was built in the early 1920s. It had been remodeled into a house in the early 1960s. The gallery had been using that home configuration with the occasional modification. I wanted the makeover to refer to its schoolhouse origins, both by opening up the interior spaces and building a covered "bell tower" entrance structure. I also wanted to use, if possible, the original fir flooring, long covered over by layers of paint and glue from carpeting.

Did it involve a physical reconfiguration of the space?

Paula Coleman: Yes, it required the removal of two walls, removing two steps and adding shelving. The re-sanding of the floor was done in a creative way by N'kosi Sudan, a professional floor installer. He created abstract designs using red, yellow and green stain for his floor canvas, which he calls "walkable art." His design will stay until the next artist uses the floor as his or her canvas. In addition, a floor was built between the home accessory studio, which is elevated 15 inches from the floor, and Ousmane Gueye's sculpture studio, which is elevated 10 inches from the floor. N'kosi used distressed oak in various brown hues for that section, which was elevated 8 inches from the floor and added one step leading from the new elevation to the home studio. (See picture on page 34.)

Darrell McGarvey: Our entire gallery also was repainted, the wood floor refinished and the carpets shampooed, but no physical reconfiguration was necessary.

Kevin Rouse: The physical configuration of our property itself is ideal. The buildings are big boxes with minimal peripheral interior walls.

Michael Schlicting: The front entrance was changed from the south to the west. The ground level in the new front was raised 4 to 5 feet with a series of terraces. All doors and windows (and a fireplace and chimney) were removed and reconfigured. The interior walls were removed and the ceiling was opened up to its original 10-foot height.

When was it, or will it, be completed?

Paula Coleman: The first phase of the makeover is about 75 percent completed. The second phase will add more shelving and will include a repainted 13-foot long church pew for displaying items and for seating. This phase will be completed by Aug. 25--just in time for our first exhibition of the season on Aug. 29, when we will host and feature the works of 88-year-old master sculptor and painter, Philip Moore from Guyana.

Kevin Rouse: We purchased the property in May, and are shooting for an opening this season. Our early goal is October. We have plans for exterior art murals, and I've designed a custom neon art sign to sit on the 'eyebrow,' the art deco exterior flat shelve/ledge over the front windows.

Michael Schlicting: The bulk of the work was finished in late spring. There is still some landscaping to be finished.

Darrell McGarvey: The makeover was completed July 1.

Please discuss the aspects of your project that please you most?

Paula Coleman: The most pleasing aspect is that the space will be opened. My clients and shoppers will be able to view the sculpture studio and most of exhibition space from the new home studio. This openness will complete the loft effect of the gallery, and provide a more spacious shopping environment for my clients.

Kevin Rouse: We're thinking vertical, since we're in the central core of the CBD (Central Business District), which allows for height and density. We dream of rooftop gardens, and we're excited about the graffiti-covered rail cars that go by on the East Coast Rail Road Corridor. We're already thinking of the photo essays to come.

Michael Schlicting: The refinished fir floor came out beautifully. I wanted a warm, distressed look, and that was achieved. I'm also very pleased by the entry tower and the copper entry ceiling.


* Boulder City Art Guild Gallery, 707-293-2138,

* Hawk Creek Gallery, 503-392-3879,

* KEVRO Gallery, 561-274-0007,

* P.C.O.G. Gallery, 212-932-9669,;


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Author:Jancsurak, Joe
Publication:Art Business News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2006
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