SAYING GOODBYE – IN A WAY

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Ann Nicholson (left) and Shirley Gallentine stand outside the Appalachian Creativity Center on West Crawford Avenue. The gallery will close at the end of the month but the duo plan to continue classes. Roxanne Abramowitz | The daily mail

For more than five years, the Appalachian Creativity Center has occupied a storefront on West Crawford Avenue in Connellsville.

Located next to the Connellsville Canteen, the business provides space for area artists to sell their work and serves as a hub for a wide variety of art classes.

The art center will close at the end of July.

Owners Ann Nicholson and Shirley Gallentine said the lease for the space ended at the end of August and everything should be removed by then.

“We just want to thank the artists, the students and the community for their support,” Gallentine said.

Although the gallery is closed, classes will continue in a space at the back of the site at 139 W. Crawford Ave., the owners said. Attendees will enter through the same door as usual, but continue down the hallway to the back.

The Appalachian Creativity Center name will stick around as the business transitions into classes, community outreach and “other things,” they added.

“Courses are important to people, and we think we have to find a way to keep them going,” Gallentine said.

The Appalachian Creativity Center offers classes for people of all ages.

Nicholson focuses on a variety of courses designed for young people.

For adults, subjects are wreath making, stained glass, woodworking and basket weaving. Gallentine and Nicholson work with several instructors who come to help with the lessons

Gallentine said they see the change as a stepping stone.

“We gained so much experience from this business,” Gallentine said, noting that a struggling economy played into the decision to close.

Over the years, more than 100 artists have passed through the center, Gallentine said.

As part of the operation of the center, the artists brought in objects and set a price. The center added its fees to the price, Gallentine said.

Artists paid monthly fees to exhibit their work and received monthly payments for items sold.

Some artists began pulling their work, but others asked Nicholson and Gallentine to cut prices in an effort to sell merchandise before the shutdown.

Future goals are to conduct live auctions, allowing owners to continue working with local artists, and to sponsor an arts and crafts festival at a local park.

“We always want to try to promote our artists,” Gallentine said.

Community outreach is important to Nicholson and Gallentine, they said.

Gallentine said they will reach out to nonprofit organizations and conduct various arts programs that may involve lectures and hands-on experiences. Programs for parties and various community groups are possible.

The Appalachian Creativity Center was established in 2016. It was previously known as ArtWorks – operated by the Fayette County Cultural Trust – formed in 2013.

“It was something the community needed,” Gallentine said.

Gallentine said it was time to think about other approaches.

“Ann and I want to thank the community so much for supporting artists, artists for trusting us to sell their projects,” she said.

She thanked the students who participated in the classes and helped keep the center open.

Gallentine said they will continue with their goal of spreading awareness of the arts.

“We’re looking at so many different options, and I’m not saying there will never be an art gallery again,” she said.

The next few weeks will be bittersweet for Gallentine and Nicholson.

“We met all these wonderful people,” Gallentine said, adding that they made so many friends.

Roxanne Abramowitz is the

Editor of the Daily Courier. She can be reached at [email protected]

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