Well, it finally happened: McGowan Fine Art is officially moved into its new 2 Phenix Ave. location and open for business.
After announcing its closing this summer and subsequent move, the gallery will live on. And following a few difficult days of moving artwork, cabinets, furniture and all those triangle frame samples – while taking the time to set it all up – McGowan unveiled its new spot to the public the day after Thanksgiving. And while it’s still a work in progress in some respects, we took a field trip to the gallery to see how it looks – and compares to the only space McGowan ever knew on Hills Avenue.
“There were lots of people who wanted to see us stay open,” gallery owner Sarah Chaffee said.
If you’re new to Concord, Phenix Avenue actually used to be a road you could drive down, until the city did the whole Main Street redesign. Now it’s considered an alley and stands between CVS and The Works Bakery Cafe on North Main. You may walk right by it most days, but next time you’re in the area, take a peek down and you’ll see that familiar McGowan sign hanging from the building.
To find the gallery, head down the stairs and through the door immediately in front of you. Don’t worry, we’ll wait. Now, we thought the floor outside the gallery looked wet and were about to tell someone there was a leak, until we realized that it was just the sealant they used inside the gallery to give the floor a fresh new look.
It’s definitely smaller than we’re used to for McGowan, but it’s not like we expected it to be the exact same. Since it’s a basement space, there isn’t the luxury of those giant windows to let in tons of natural light, but the redone lighting setup more than makes up for it. And FYI, there is one window that looks out at Phenix Ave., so sunshine can be an option.
Because the space is smaller, there isn’t as much inventory on hand, but that’s not a bad thing.
“My insurance agent was cheering,” Chaffee said.
And it’s all right out in the open to be seen. There are racks and drawers to the right when you walk in, along with all the frame samples hung up on the wall. Desks for Chaffee and communications guru Julie Hamel are next to the wall on the right.
In the main area, there are a couple pedestals in the center of the room that contain sculptures. The walls (both brick and sheetrock) are filled with the current show, including the wall straight ahead that Chaffee had put in to create more display space – which is always a good thing for any gallery.
“I needed walls for hanging art – it’s kind of a big part of my business,” Chaffee said.
Behind that wall is the frame shop, which is up and running as it was in the old space.
The ceiling is open, giving it an industrial feel – a far cry from the more modern look of the previous location.
“It’s got that city art feel,” Chaffee said. “It was my opportunity to change the look of the gallery, so let’s try something completely different. I call it my little slice of New York City.”
You’ll also notice two large entrances to a smaller nook and a hallway with more art.
Currently, the gallery is showing the work of Gary Haven Smith and Bert Yarborough in “Closer,” which will be on display through Dec. 22. And now, instead of eight shows a year, the plan is to scale back to five.
If you haven’t seen the space, you should check it out. For now, the hours will remain the same – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
“We’re going to see what people want,” Chaffee said.