Heart of Art in Downtown Tyler

Written and Photographed By Barbara King

There’s a lot going on in downtown Tyler these days, especially in the arts community. Gallery Main Street is part of the exciting revitalization of downtown that showcases the talented and creativity of local artists.

gallerymainstreet2The gallery, on the downtown square at 110 West Erwin is operated by the City of Tyler and is the cornerstone of the downtown business, arts and culture district. The renovated space, which opened in August 2009, is home to specialized, juried fine art exhibits featuring mainly local artists.

Exhibitions of original works rotate approximately every eight weeks, so the pieces and themes are ever changing. The current exhibition, “Movements of the Mind” runs through November 3rd and is free of charge for the public to view. This diverse exhibit is comprised of thirty unique pieces, representing seventeen individual artists. Some of the works include collage, multi-media and even a carved alabaster sculpture, entitled “Philosopher.” Featured titles also include “Into the “Deep,” “Snazzy,” “Transcendence of Memory” and “Survival of the Meek.”

The Gallery is extending a very special invitation to Veterans who are also artists to take part in the next exhibit, entitled “Against All Odds.” This exhibit will have its kickoff public reception, Saturday November 8th in conjunction with a Veteran’s Day commemorative ceremony on the square.

Beverly Abell, Main Street Department Leader, says the “juried selection process levels the playing field for artists, with every exhibition featuring a variety of different mediums.” Every entry is judged anonymously by a panel of accomplished artists and art instructors who choose final pieces for display. “This ensures each exhibit is as inclusive as possible,” explains Abell. “This also makes for an exciting mix of talent. You could conceivably view a piece of art submitted by a novice next to an established artist who has sold numerous pieces.” Each artist can submit up to three pieces digitally, with a standard entry fee of $20.

gallerymainstreet4Top scoring pieces are selected for exhibition, with the highest scoring winning Best of Show. Approximately 30-40% of the entered pieces are chosen to be part of an exhibit. Artwork is priced by the artist and available for purchase at the exhibit, with the artist receiving 80% of the sale and 20% going back to the Gallery. Artists interested in entering pieces can find prospectus rules on the website at www.downtowntylerarts.com.

“Most people don’t realize that even though the Gallery is operated by the City of Tyler, we raise the majority of the operating budget,” explains Abell. Every piece that is purchased at an exhibit helps to support and promote our local arts community.”

Every new exhibit is an event, with an opening night reception featuring live music, food and an opportunity to meet the artists. “The evening reflects the growth of the art scene in Tyler, and attracts a very eclectic group of folks that embrace creativity and expression,” says Abell.

The Gallery is also home to the very successful 6×6@110 exhibit, featuring small canvases full of color and motion that line the walls of the gallery. The Tyler community embraced the idea, and garnered the Gallery the prestigious Texas Downtown Association’s Best Promotional Event award. The mini canvases are distributed to local artists who return their works back to the gallery for sale to patrons at $20 each. This fun and creative exhibit will return to the Gallery in 2015, beginning June 6th.

gallerymainstreet3Driving around downtown you might spot some unusual sculptures, part of the OPAL project (Outdoor Public Art on Loan). Five pieces were selected for display for a year, chosen by artists, architects and landscape architects. The pieces were chosen for their artistic excellence as well as their compatibility with the landscape and architecture of the downtown area. These unusual pieces can be seen at locations including the Tyler Public Library and the T.B. Butler Plaza.

True art lovers can even rent the space for special events. The Gallery has hosted corporate meetings, parties, and even weddings. It is a perfect space for small to medium sized receptions and ceremonies for those looking for a truly unique venue. The space includes a conference room, kitchen and the actual gallery.

Gallery Main Street is free to the public and operating hours are Monday –Wednesday 10am-5pm, Thursday and Friday 10am-6pm, and Saturday 12-4pm. If those times don’t fit your schedule Abell says “call us at the Gallery at (903)593-6905 and we will open by appointment.”

To find out more about upcoming exhibits and special workshops go to downtowntylerarts.com, on Facebook at Heart O. Tyler and Twitter and Instagram at downtowntyler.