Lakeland Art Association is bringing its gallery back to the downtown Warsaw area, and President Melodie Koher couldn’t be more excited.
“It’s exciting. It’s like coming back home,” Koher said during an interview Tuesday afternoon at the gallery’s new location, 302 E. Winona Ave., Warsaw.
A grand opening is from 1 to 4 p.m. Feb. 6, though the gallery officially will open Feb. 3. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is at 1 p.m. Feb. 6, and refreshments will be served.
The gallery used to be at 109 N. Lake St. before the Justice Building was expanded and then moved to 116 S. Buffalo St. It relocated to Pierceton at 120 N. First St. in 2007, then moved across the street to 107 N. First St. in 2010.
Koher said the Association decided to move the gallery back to Warsaw after an opportunity presented itself.
“Our landlords in Pierceton own Village Antiques and Columbia House in Columbia City, and because of their age they decided to consolidate both of their stores into one there at Village Antiques. Because where we were at that time adjoins their building and they own it, they’re just going to open up both halves and put everything in there and just have one store,” she said. “They’re consolidating and their need kind of forced us somewhere else. But we had already been looking in Warsaw prior to that.”
The building at 302 E. Winona Ave. became available and was within LAA’s budget.
“It’s a larger space than we had before,” Koher said. “We will be able to have a designated classroom area here, a designated gift shop area and then a designated gallery to hang the art. It’s exciting because it is larger and we can provide more services.”
The Association is a not-for-profit, has a nine-member board of directors and was founded in 1957. It operates on grants and donations.
Its mission is “to promote the visual arts within Kosciusko County and surrounding areas,” Koher said. It offers workshops, exhibits and free art-related programs every month. The public is welcome to “any and all of that,” Koher said.
Art exhibited at Lakeland is by contemporary artists, most of whom are members of the Association.
“We will also have some permanent pieces on display or exhibited at the same time. We’ve been gifted with five Mary Alice Estep pieces of work. … We already had some Allae Garard and some other pieces. Fred Olds is already in our permanent collection. That will all be in our permanent display as well,” she stated.
Exhibits change every four weeks. “There’s always something new and different to see,” Koher said.
Art classes are offered for all skills levels in all mediums “from pottery to jewelry to painting to photography (and) drawing,” she said.
The Association currently partners with Ivy Tech to provide artwork to them. It also supplies artwork to the Warsaw City Hall.
The Association has approximately 67 members, five of whom are lifetime members.
Priti Ranadive has been a member of the Association for two years, but has known about the organization since it was on Buffalo Street.
“I had been to Lakeland Art when they were here in Warsaw so I was familiar with them. But the last few years, I just did not get in touch with them. Then last year they accepted me so I came as a member and I just love it. And I’m also an artist so I just love to display my art. I hope Warsaw people will just take advantage. We are going to offer a lot of workshops,” Ranadive said.
Her art is multi-media and she does a lot of watercolors and acrylic.
“I’ve very grateful to Melodie, very grateful. All of them are so great and they welcomed me. I’m just happy to be here. I’m just trying to help them as much as I can. It’s my pleasure,” Ranadive stated.
Koher said the gallery does run on volunteers. She estimated they have 20 to 25 people who volunteer consistently, and others who will step up for special events.
The gift shop contains items made by artist members. It has “one-of-a-kind, unique pieces that you’re not going to find anywhere else,” Koher said.
Most of the artwork exhibited is for sale, too. Gift certificates are available toward workshops or purchases.
The gallery’s hours are 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays.
Its website is at lakelandartassociation.org, and it can be found on Facebook under Lakeland Art Association. Activities, workshops and upcoming exhibits are posted on both of those.
“We’ve been very fortunate to have the support of people, organizations and corporations in our community,” Koher said.
(Story By The Times Union)