Eustis Studio now Broadway Gallery

Thursday, April 5, 2012
John Buckner, owner of the newly formed Broadway Esquire Entertainment Group, stands along Broadway in Cape Girardeau Wednesday morning, Dec. 28, 2011. Buckner is purchasing the Esquire Theater and hopes to purchase three more building on Broadway, one of which will be a 24-hour diner. (Laura Simon)

Razing Cain is no more. Eustis Studio is turning into something else. And the Esquire Theater is still in limbo.

John Buckner, the arts entrepreneur who had grand visions of making a splash in downtown Cape Girardeau, is putting his focus on his art gallery, which is no longer officially associated with New Orleans artist Karen Eustis. Eustis has handed over control of the business to Buckner, who intends to keep it open for the foreseeable future.

"I'm moving on, and it's John's to handle now," Eustis said. "I have absolutely adored the people of Cape, however. I'd like to thank them and tell them I appreciate them more than I can possibly express."

Eustis Studio posted on its website that Feb. 29 was the last day the studio was open.

Buckner said he's committed to keeping the gallery open. A First Friday reception is taking place there for a new art exhibition.

"Eustis Studio just didn't have the sales it needed to stay afloat, but we're changing the name and changing the market we're catering to," Buckner said. "We'll be going with art more in the $1,000 range, as opposed to $40,000. Karen's work was always so beautiful, but a little out of range for most."

Eustis Studio opened in August and was owned by Karen Eustis, a New Orleans artist and sculptor. Buckner was the director of sales, working with Eustis. The new Broadway Gallery and Framing is owned solely by Buckner and is in the same space that was occupied by Eustis Studio. Buckner filed a business license with the city of Cape Girardeau on March 19, declaring his intent to open Broadway Gallery and Framing.

Buckner, a Southeast Missouri native, is an art promoter and dealer who has worked predominately in New Orleans before recently returning to the area.

The gallery is named after Buckner's business, Broadway Esquire Entertainment Group.

The gallery is one of a few business interests Broadway Esquire Entertainment Group has been involved in since Buckner announced his plan in October to buy and renovate the old Esquire Theater on Broadway. One of those business ventures, the restaurant Razing Cain, recently closed after less than a month in business.

It will cost an estimated $2.7 million to renovate the Esquire into an working theater showing independent films.

Buckner said Friday that plans to renovate the Esquire Theater are on hold at this time, but his galleries remain a top project. However, he said his mind isn't made up about what to do next.

"I want to focus on my art gallery and the art right now," Buckner said. "That's where my top priority lies."

Buckner declined to talk about the Esquire in a telephone interview Wednesday.

The Esquire's current owner, Phil Brinson, didn't immediately return a message left on his cellphone seeking comment Wednesday.

Buckner said he has signed a new two-year lease on the building housing Broadway Gallery and plans to re-evaluate the studio's future at the end of the contract. The gallery will continue to host events, including local artist Bob Grabel's "Organica" showing slated for this month. The show features colorful mixed-media pieces on display, beginning during a First Friday event this week.

"I kind of feel Karen left John hanging, but fortunately John's keeping it going," said Grabel, a member of the Visual Arts Cooperative. "I think people will enjoy this show's mood. The pieces are pretty unique and not your everyday artistic stylings."

Broadway Gallery and Framing is at 1606 Independence St. Weekday showings are by appointment only by calling 334-4100.

jsamons@semissourian.com

388-3641

Pertinent address:

1606 Independence St., Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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