New offerings in bloom at Garden Gallery

This summer has been a time of change and expansion for the Garden Gallery, located above Grace Cafe at 833 Broadway in Cape Girardeau.

In June, owner Linda Bohnsack created an artisan cooperative and renovated the gallery to create a room to exhibit the co-op's work. Now, Bohnsack has decided to continually participate in First Friday, when most area galleries open their exhibits, by keeping the gallery open from 6 to 9 p.m. the first Friday of every month.

"I felt like there definitely was a need for it," Bohnsack said of having more galleries participating regularly in the First Friday events. "It really works out well for people who want to make a night of it."

It also works out well for Bohnsack's gallery.

Last month's First Friday saw opening receptions at the Garden Gallery, the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri and the H&H Building.

Bohnsack estimates that about 300 people visited the gallery during the First Friday in August.

"That room was filled with people for three hours," she said. "It was wonderful."

Often there will be new work from the co-op members at the gallery during these First Friday events, but unlike the arts council, Bohnsack will not be changing the pieces at the gallery at the beginning of each month. She said new work, whether it is a painting, pottery or jewelry, arrives all the time.

Also, unlike the arts council, Bohnsack will not distribute mailings every month inviting people to the gallery for First Friday. Bohnsack said she does not have the budget for monthly mailings and she believes they will be obsolete once people get used to the idea that her gallery is open late the first Friday of every month. She said it's about getting people to make a habit of stopping by the gallery after they go to the arts council's opening reception.

"As long as I'm open I'd imagine I'll have people coming in," she said.

There are some other changes Bohnsack has decided to institute for the gallery starting this month.

For the next 12 months, there will be a monthly exhibit spotlighting the artwork of co-op members downstairs by the back entrance to the Grace Cafe. In addition to having their artwork on display in a high-traffic area, the spotlighted artist will have an artist's statement and business cards near the display.

"I'm hoping it could get their names out there and lead to future work," Bohnsack said.

The artwork of Scott City-based artist Eddie Stuart is the first co-op member to be spotlighted.

Stuart first exhibited at the Garden Gallery in March in an exhibit featuring the artwork of Cleda Curtis Neal's art students. Because of that exhibit, when Bohnsack decided to form a co-op, she contacted Stuart early on to ask her to join. Stuart, who is on the waiting list for the arts council's co-op, was happy to join.

"Linda Bohnsack is wonderful to work with," Stuart said. "I kind of feel like she's doing this as a favor to us artists, giving us a place to display and sell our work. She made it a point to set up a room just for us."

While she is pleased to be the first co-op artist to be spotlighted downstairs, Stuart said it is only because she already had a number of pieces ready to show. "I had an exhibit in Sikeston in February," Stuart said.

Yet another new addition to the Garden Gallery in September is the work of Cape Girardeau-based jeweler Regen Hall.

"I'm thrilled," Hall said of having her jewelry at the Garden Gallery.

In addition to creating jewelry for private clients, Hall is the in-house jewelry designer at Annie-Em's Antiques and Gifts at 38 N. Main St., which means she designs jewelry that is sold only at that store. She also reworks vintage pieces of jewelry for people who request it.

Hall uses a lot of vintage buttons and beads in her pieces, which she described as "kind of funky."

While pieces by new jewelry artists will not be a monthly occurrence at the Garden Gallery, Bohnsack said there will be new pieces of jewelry each month from artists who already supply the gallery with their work.

In October, the Garden Gallery is scheduled to feature new artwork by Jaclyn Lawson of St. Louis and Kathryn Breitenstein of Patton, Mo., and new jewelry by Linda Alberson and Emilie Clardy of Cape Girardeau.

335-6611, extension 182