New gallery features local artists

Published 12:54 am Sunday, April 13, 2008

ArtsNatchez will have only one goal when it opens its doors today — to promote local artists.

The gallery will have its grand opening from 2 to 6 p.m.

Located at 110 N. Union St., Arts Natchez is a non-profit art co-op that was formed after local artists felt there was a need to have a gallery to display the works of more than one artist.

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Founding member Jerry Dixon said he knew the gallery would work after two successful Artists Studio Tours put on by the Natchez Downtown Development Association.

“There are several galleries around town, but for the most part they only display the works of single artists at a time,” Dixon said. “I knew the people were here, it was just a matter of bringing them out of the woodwork.”

When it opens, the gallery will showcase the works of 30 local and regional artists — largely unknowns — who worked with almost any medium, from paint to chalk to wood.

Local John Harter is one of those artists.

Though he started sketching at a young age, Harter said he fell away from it as he got more and more involved in a Naval career.

But in the last year he had the opportunity to get back into the arts, and his pencil, chalk and charcoal sketches and portraits are on display at the gallery.

Because it is a non-profit organization, the gallery is planning to offer educational classes for children, and Dixon said he hopes to see a positive effect radiate out from the gallery.

“The Mississippi Arts Council says ‘art means business,’ and that’s what I hope to see,” Dixon said. “Someone will come to see the gallery, and then they will go to a restaurant and get something to eat or go somewhere else from here.”

The gallery is managed by a board of directors and is supported by patron members, who have the same voting rights as the artist members, whose work is in the gallery.

ArtsNatchez has five levels of patron membership: Rockefeller patrons, who make annual contributions of $2,000 or more, Vanderbilt patrons, who make annual contributions of $1,000 to $1,999, Carnegie patrons, whose annual contributions are between $500 to $999, Guggenheim patrons, who contribute between $100 and $499 annually and Getty patrons, who agree to work in the gallery one day a month with an artist member.