February 8, 2017

The Palette is available to all interested with an e-Subscription


In this issue:

Local Business Matters: The Loft Offers the Arts Supplies you Need and ‘Good, Informed Advice’
Beads & Brushstrokes Celebrates 30 Years in Business
How an Art Library is Changing Lives in Los Angeles
82% of Americans Don’t Know Who Painted “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” Study Says
Help Preserve Vincent van Gogh’s Humble Grave
Picasso, LeWitt and 1,150 Works are Part of More Than $100 Million Gift to Colby Art Museum
Longview Homeless Man Uses Art to Transform His Life
Belfast Art Gallery on Move to Bigger Space After 30 years

  

 

Local Business Matters: The Loft Offers the Arts Supplies you Need and ‘Good, Informed Advice’

ATHENS, GA: The Internet and big-box stores have been the end of many kinds of small businesses, but some survive. One of those is The Loft, an arts supply store on Baxter Street.

Rainbows of acrylic and oil paints are arrayed on walls, and shelves hold arrays of seemingly everything an artist might need, basics like canvas and drawing pads, but also specialized items like imported papers or sandpaper meant to sharpen a pencil to its finest possible point.

Some of his long-time clients are established artists that have come to the Loft for decades, but University of Georgia students are also a big part of the Loft’s clientele. The store’s busiest months by far are January and August, when UGA semesters begin, keeping Loft owner Scott Pope and four employees moving.

The business began in 1975, started by a young woman who decided she’d rather use the money she’d saved up for graduate school to start a business instead.

At that time it was called “The Artist’s Loft,” said Pope, who bought the business in 1977.

Pope studied art at UGA earlier, but graduated with a journalism degree. He was working for an art supplies distributor in Atlanta when he saw an advertisement to sell the business The Loft first opened its doors downtown, upstairs in a building overlooking College Square. For many years it was on Jackson Street, next to Jackson Street Books.

When the Loft began, there were several other small arts supply companies, like Tanner Lumber Company, whose name is still visible on a building that’s now part of UGA’s North Campus.

Pope moved the business out to its Baxter Street location in 2009. UGA’s art school, once a short walk away on Jackson Street, had moved to its big new home on UGA’s East Campus and downtown was no longer such a good location for a retail art supply store.

Big box hobby store chains such as Hobby Lobby and online sales also draw away business, Pope said.

“Retail as a whole has changed dramatically in the past couple of decades,” he said.

But the Loft has something hard to find elsewhere, he said — “good, informed advice.”

People who work at the Loft come in with an art background as students or artists themselves, he said.

His employees today are Kenneth Kase, Danielle Ragogna, Alex Treadwell and Christine Zito, the store manager.

“So you’ll always have reliable information,” he said.

The store also stocks hard-to-find specialized items and services such as framing and high-quality giclee printing.

And if they don’t have it, they’ll find it for you, he said.

Owning the store all these years has allowed Pope to be a teacher and also has made it easier to pursue his own career as an artist.

Pope is also a painter himself, and all the time he’s operated The Loft, he’s also been making and selling his own paintings. In recent years, he’s devoted more of his time to his own art, brief moments he’s experienced and shows us in landscapes sometimes realistic, sometimes impressionistic.

Pope won the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation’s Southworks juried art exhibit in 2015, earning him a solo show at OCAF in 2016.

Scott, 68, isn’t ready to retire, but he’s thinking about it more as he devotes more time to his own painting. Athens Banner-Herald

 

Beads & Brushstrokes Celebrates 30 Years in Business

MT. PLEASANT, SC: Over the course of three decades of business, Beads & Brushstrokes has been recreated to meet the changing creative desires of the Lowcountry.

It first opened its doors in January of 1987 as Country Bumpkin Gifts & Antiques on Ben Sawyer Boulevard across from Western Auto (now Goodwill).

The new store featured local artwork on consignment, and that prompted interest in do-it-yourself projects. Kris Rife, who had left the nursing field to pursue other opportunities, was selling antiques across the country. She thought her locally made pieces would fit well with the store's offerings, so she bought the store from original owner Joan Buckley.

"Grandmother and mother were creative people and spent a lot time at the hardware store. They passed that do-it-yourself drive to me and the desire to nurture that part of the brain," said Rife.

Classes in furniture painting were requested, and after a couple years of teaching classes in decorative painting and home-decorating crafts, the store evolved into a shop selling mostly supplies for creative people with a couple of pine pie safes for display.

According to Rife, "We survived Hurricane Hugo with only a loss of a window and returned from evacuating to find dozens of spools of ribbon blowing in the wind out that broken window. In 1992, we moved the store and joined Lou Edens in her redevelopment of The Commons on Shem Creek."

Rife said that fine art supplies were added and decorative painting classes were prolific, as were the friendships created between students.

After the tragedy of Sept. 11, Rife said many people sought comfort in creating with friends and family around the kitchen table in the comfort of their own, safe home. The art of jewelry-making exploded nationally as it did in the Lowcountry.

"Always responding to the trends and changing requests of customers, Country Bumpkin Arts expanded into a second store for jewelry artists to carry a large selection of semi-precious stones, pearls and crystals," said Rife.

When two big-box craft supply stores opened in Mount Pleasant, Rife felt a need to recreate the business. So in 2012, she changed the name to Beads & Brushstrokes, and the store was relocated to Lansing Plaza, across from Trader Joe's, where it continues to equip the young and old to create jewelry and art, facilitate new friendships, advise new moms establishing a home jewelry business, nurture creative ideas and welcome a third generation of artisans.

"Country style decorations for the home were really in back in the late 1980's, but after 15 years it was time to change. In addition, when the economy crashed, discretionary income became more of a challenge for people, so we had to reinvent the wheel. We moved and are now in a more visible space, but we downsized and are focusing on what's popular."

Rife said that as a retailer, the biggest change and challenge she has seen is in the way people shop.

"The internet is the place where people are making their purchases, but what helps us is that we sell gemstones, for example, and that is something you actually have to see and feel them before you purchase."

The store has given Rife flexibility in her personal and family life, allowing her to be a stay-at-home mom.

"And what I've enjoyed most is meeting people's needs and the community's needs and watching people enjoy what they do," she said. "We offer an ear and a shoulder, and you can't charge for that. But we do an awful lot of that, and that's part of what makes a little business in town important." Moultrie News

 

How an Art Library is Changing Lives in Los Angeles
An L.A. nonprofit space providing free art education to underserved young adults boasts more than 8,000 books

LOS ANGELES, CA: In 2004, the mother of artist Dan McCleary passed away. “My parents were avid book readers and collectors of art books,” he told me. “So instead of buying flowers, I told everyone to buy me books.”

That was the early genesis for a library of art books that grew to become the core of Art Division, an L.A. nonprofit space that provides free art education to underserved young adults in the city’s MacArthur Park neighborhood. An upcoming show at the USC Fisher Museum of Art in March will feature 16 students — two have gallery representation and one has undertaken all of the graphic design for Art Division itself. And it all grew from just a few books.

Enrichment programs for the young

As word spread that McCleary was collecting books, more donations came in from friends and fellow artists.

“Chris Burden heard about it, got in touch with me and said his mother had just passed away and did I want her books?” McCleary recalled. “He had amazing art books from his mother’s library. That was one of the big donations right at the beginning.” Today, Art Division is making a tangible impact on its students.

In the early days, McCleary was working as director of art programs at Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA), another nonprofit that primarily focused on enrichment programs for kids from younger age groups. Eventually, he founded Art Division in 2010 with help from Javier Carrillo, Maria Galicia and Emmanuel Galvez. They took the more adult-oriented books from the collection they’d amassed at HOLA — with permission — and set up shop in a building in the primarily Latino neighborhood of MacArthur Park.

McCleary geared the space toward young adults between 18 and 26 who were “not ready to go off and be full-blown adults” as he puts it, but who had graduated high school and found what miniscule access to arts training they had cut off.

The 10,000 book library is the “heart and soul” of Art Division. From there, the nonprofit offers a range of courses and access to arts materials, providing something of a “high-end master’s program for inner-city young adults,” McCleary said. “We give them an in-depth training in the arts.”

Art Division offers entirely free classes (semesters are roughly 12 weeks) in art history, painting, drawing, printmaking, creative writing, film and more. Access to materials, like the classes themselves, is completely gratis. Students are also taken to L.A.’s numerous museums (MOCA is a 10-minute drive) to actually see the art they studied firsthand — a kind of in-person education not available even to some full-time art history undergraduates at rural schools. But beyond access, Art Division is different than your normal art history course. The latter is “slide after slide and half the class falls asleep,” McCleary said. “The point is that we don’t do that. We take a good look at the actual books and go see the art.”

And, of course, anyone can visit Art Division and crack open one of the thousands of books on the shelves to guide their studies or develop their interests as they see fit. That openness and freedom is important to McCleary.

Relaxation and shared ideas

Beyond the classes, Art Division serves as a space where residents can come to relax, foster ideas and hone their art historical knowledge.

“We’re open six days a week, from 11 a.m. until 8 or 9 o’clock at night,” McCleary said. “People can come and eat, work in the library and do their homework, and also have access to a really great staff and faculty of artists.”

The books range from monographs of individual artists to scholarly works on architecture, fashion, art therapy — the list goes on. Teachers integrate the books into their classes and if a student is researching a particular subject or artist, McCleary will make an effort to obtain the needed materials.

A respected artist in his own right, McCleary, who has lived in MacArthur Park for 30 years, didn’t expect his life to take a turn toward operating a nonprofit space.

“I was just an artist who was very hermetic; I stayed in my studio making art,” he said. But after trips to Oaxaca, Mexico — which is home to the Instituto de Artes Gráficas de Oaxaca, a similar library — McCleary grew inspired.

The library itself shows no signs of slowing.

“Every week or two we get a call from someone who wants to get rid of art books and then when you go through them, there are just incredible gems, most of which we already have, but it’s becoming incredibly sophisticated.”

The books are all housed in the space, though they’ve had to stop building shelves because of the threat of earthquakes.

McCleary told me about one student who fell upon Robert Henri’s The Art Spirit (a favorite of another L.A. legend, David Lynch). “He would come in at 8 in the morning and read that book,” McCleary said. “He just kept reading all the philosophy books every day in the library itself, and it really activated his brain.” USCNews

 

82% of Americans Don’t Know Who Painted “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” Study Says
The divide between the art community and the American public is something people are constantly trying to figure out.

Meural, a new online art buying platform that believes in “democratizing” art, commissioned a study from the internet-based market research firm YouGov PLC on Americans and art. The survey was conducted last November, and the sample size was 1,105 American adults.

Some not so surprising things (with my commentary):

82% of people could not identify the artist of the “Girl with a Pearl Earring” as Vermeer. I bet many thought it was by Rembrandt.

42% of millenials couldn’t name Grant Wood’s “American Gothic.” Who cares?
1 in 14 believe art is too pretentious for them to enjoy. Honestly, I’m surprised it isn’t higher.
Some suspect things:

1 in 5 Americans would spend more time appreciating art if they had better access. I’m not sure I buy this because, people always say aspirational things but often do something else. 

And the really surprising:

4% of Americans buy art regularly. Hmmm …

85% of those who buy art say they will spend up to $500 on it. OK, this makes more sense — but how will any artist make a living if this is the preferred price point?
Art in the United States continues to be an enigma. This country has some of the strongest art institutions, best-known artists, and the most (and arguably the best) arts professionals in the world, yet the divide between the art community and the American public is something people are constantly trying to figure out. Maybe part of the appeal of American art is the constant desire by artists, curators, and other arts professionals here to expand the audience. What these stats don’t tell us is how we’re going to do that. What’s next? Hyperallergic

 

Help Preserve Vincent van Gogh’s Humble Grave
A crowdfunding campaign is rallying support from Vincent van Gogh fans to preserve and protect the painter’s grave in Auvers-sur-Oise, France.

Many of the around 200,000 annual visitors who journey to Auvers-sur-Oise, just north of Paris, pay their respects at the grave of Vincent van Gogh by leaving sunflowers or bits of wheat from the nearby fields that he painted shortly before his death on July 29, 1890. Last July, on the anniversary of his passing from a self-inflicted bullet wound, Le Figaro reported that instead of flowers, the local Institut van Gogh was asking for donations to preserve this fragile site.

Water damage from bad storms in October 2015, inadequate drainage at the cemetery, and the heavy foot traffic have taken their toll on the burial ground, where van Gogh’s brother Theo, who died shortly after him, is also interred. Hannah McGivern at the Art Newspaper reported this week that the council of Auvers-sur-Oise is teaming with the nonprofit Institut Van Gogh on a crowdfunding campaign to raise €600,000 (~$647,640) for needed repairs at the village graveyard. The planned work includes a cemetery drainage system, shelter, bathrooms, lighting, a lockable entrance, and a redesign of the surrounding landscape to better reflect it as immortalized in van Gogh’s last canvases.

The cemetery is a short walk from Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption, which van Gogh painted in a June 1890 piece now at the Musée d’Orsay. That structure has also suffered significant water damage and has a leaky roof, which were the focus of a preceding crowdfunding campaign. On the way to the cemetery, you pass by a wheat field he painted in 1890, during his final 70 days spent in Auvers-sur-Oise. The van Gogh brothers are not the only eternal art residents in the cemetery, which includes monuments to sculptor Léon Fagel and the painter Charles-François Daubigny. Yet Vincent continues to draw the crowds to the plot he shares with his art dealer and brother Theo. It’s covered with ivy, said to be cultivated from the garden of his friend Dr. Paul Gachet. In the early 1900s, a more formal memorial involving a cast bronze medallion was proposed for this humble place, but it was never executed. Now, van Gogh’s 21st-century fans can help protect the modest headstone that commemorates the celebrated Dutch artist. Hyperallergic

 

Picasso, LeWitt and 1,150 Works are Part of More Than $100 Million Gift to Colby Art Museum

The Colby College Museum of Art may seem off the beaten path, three hours north of Boston, but a gift of 1,150 works, ranging from Vincent Van Gogh to Ai Weiwei, should help boost the Waterville, Maine, campus as a tourist destination.

The gift, to be announced Friday by Colby, comes from a familiar source, Peter and Paula Lunder, collectors with strong ties to Maine and the college. In 2013, Colby’s museum opened a $15 million space to house a significant collection of the hundreds of works given by the couple. The new donation, which includes money to endow a new study institute, is valued at more than $100 million.

The Lunder Institute for American Art will host on-campus residencies for scholars, artists and graduate students, and develop exhibitions and conferences centered around the museum’s collection. Colby also plans to open a contemporary gallery sometime soon in downtown Waterville, an economically challenged city undergoing a slow, steady revitalization.

“Goodness, it’s game changing,” Colby President David A. Greene said of the Lunder Institute in particular. “You may get this at a major university, but this is the kind of thing that is just never done at a liberal arts college.”

For Colby, Greene says the focus on art is all the more important as so many institutions are de-emphasizing the humanities. Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire, which is unrelated, announced plans last month to eliminate English and philosophy as majors.

A gift of this nature also is key to a museum like Colby’s. While Yale University (1832) and Harvard University (1896) founded their art museums more than a century ago, the Colby College Museum of Art didn’t open until 1959. With an annual acquisitions budget of about $500,000, the museum can’t dramatically upgrade its collection without significant donations.

The Lunder’s gift includes Pablo Picasso’s “Vollard Suite,” a set of 100 etchings created in the late 1930s. A similar set of the etchings sold for $3.3 million at Sotheby’s in 2013.

The gift also boosts Colby’s already impressive collection of James McNeill Whistler, represented by 346 works in the museum, as well as adding such contemporary artists as Ai Weiwei and Maya Lin. The time span of works in this donation covers centuries, from an Albrecht Dürer etching from 1501 to a 2014 Julie Mehretu aquatint.

“They [the Lunders] have continued to collect since their last gift, and in many ways they’ve pushed themselves as collectors and continued to push this collection,” says Sharon Corwin, the director of the Colby Museum of Art. “They started this collection as a collection of 19th-century French art. To go from Henri Fantin-Latour to Olafur Eliasson is a pretty big jump.”

Corwin says building a stronger connection to Waterville also is important. The city is less than a mile from Colby’s campus.

“But distance is misleading because the college is kind of up on this hill,” she says. “It’s further away than it seems.”

So Corwin has been trying to build connections to the city and region through art. In 2014, Colby worked with the Wisconsin-based Kohler Foundation to create the Langlais Art Trail, which features the late sculptor Bernard Langlais’s work at more than 50 sites across Maine.

Paula Lunder, in a phone interview, said the couple found it easy to make its latest gift.

“Natural,” she said. “That’s how it feels to us.”

She also said they remain collectors and see no reason to stop working with Colby.

“The reason we’ve gone into contemporary art is because we’re still learning,” said Lunder, 79. “When Sharon and her team of curators present us with something they’ve seen in the field of art, there’s a conversation. If we appreciate it, we don’t have to love it because we’re talking to art historians and we’re not.” The Washington Post

 

Longview Homeless Man Uses Art to Transform His Life

LONGVIEW, TX: Sitting in McDonald's on East Marshall Avenue recently, Anthony Holden began singing a song he wrote about heaven and its streets paved in gold.

"There'll be pearls at his gate and the streets paved with gold, and the only way in is the key God holds," Holden sang while sitting at a table, a stack of blank paper and an assortment of pencils and erasers in front of him.

It's everything he needs to create mini masterpieces for anyone who will give him a donation.

Holden is a homeless artist who sketches portraits of people while entertaining them with songs and stories about his past — and always with a smile on his face.

In and out of prison in Georgia, Holden eventually made his way to the Las Vegas strip where he performed as a Michael Jackson impersonator for years — or as he says, where he "pretended to be something I wasn't."

There, he met his beloved bride, Sara, who hailed from Longview.

They moved back to Longview and were happily married for three years until she died, and Holden found himself homeless again.

Now, he said he's using his artistic talents to try to make a better life for himself while honoring his wife and God.

In addition to sketches, Holden also has created "masterpieces" in the form of murals inside Tuscan Pig Italian Kitchen on South High Street and is trying to secure more similar projects.

"When people look at my work, I want them to feel the beauty of angels. ... I just want to get it right before I die. I want to be Longview's town artist," Holden said. "I want to make people smile."

Atlanta

Holden, 60, was born in Atlanta. He was 10 years old when he first learned to drawn.

"I would come home from school and my tablet would be covered in drawings," he said.

He said he was spanked for it and was told to concentrate more on his schoolwork.

In high school, Holden said he had the opportunity to enter an art contest in which the winner received a scholarship at the Atlanta College of Art.

The college was established in 1905 an was one of the oldest art institutions in the South.

It operated until 2006, when it merged with the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Holden's family didn't have money, and his supplies were limited. A house nearby had burned down at the time, and one day he picked up a piece of wood from the house, he recalled.

Holden made an imprint of Diana Ross — a portrait from her time with the Supremes — in the burned wood. He won first place in the art contest and earned a scholarship for classes at the college, he said.

In those courses, some of which Holden took while still in high school, he learned more about art. More attuned to sketches and drawings, Holden said the college courses taught him a lot about painting.

But at the time that Holden was refining his artistic talent, his life took a different turn.

He fathered two children with a girl from high school and became involved in the wrong crowd, which led to using drugs.

He went to prison the first time when he was 19 and was in and out of the Georgia prison system for almost 30 years — a mixture of drug charges and petty theft and forgery charges.

Holden said he often felt like "the fall guy."

One of his first drug charges, he said, was when he made a call to secure drugs from what he thought was his regular dealer, but turned out to be an undercover police officer. Later, he said the forgery charge came from documents related to a building that many homeless people, Holden included, were staying in. When police raided it and asked who had forged the documents, Holden said, he stood up and took the blame.

"I had already been to prison. I knew what it was like and I knew I could survive there. I didn't want anybody else to have to go through it," he said.

Holden survived prison, but he also went through numerous hardships while in and out. While working in a field with equipment, a malfunction caused him to lose a leg. He now has a prosthetic.

"I had to learn to walk again," he said.

He also said he learned to love God again.

"God is real. I used to think everybody was crazy, talking about their religion. But Jesus is real, and that's something I want the whole world to know," Holden said. "You are not by yourself. You are not alone when you have Jesus."

From his cell block, Holden said he professed God's love to other inmates. He also sang songs, some of which he wrote himself.

Some of the prison guards told him that he really didn't belong in prison, he recalled, and he knew it, too. So, at 48, he decided he had to make a change when he was released from prison for the last time.

Las Vegas

Homeless, Holden then traveled to Las Vegas and started entertaining people on the strip to make money for a bed each night.

He drew sketches of people from all over the world who were visiting Las Vegas and entertained them with Michael Jackson tunes and dance moves while drawing.

On a recent day at McDonald's in Longview, Holden sang the chorus of Jackson's, "The Way You Make Me Feel," which was one of his favorite songs by the King of Pop to perform. On point with his impersonation of Jackson, Holden also broke out in a moonwalk — Jackson's signature dance move — as he sang.

"I can moonwalk, too," he said as he demonstrated.

Some people visiting Las Vegas who met Holden took video and posted it on YouTube with the phrase "the singing cowboy" and "Vegas" somewhere in the description. Videos are still on YouTube of Holden's time in Vegas.

He had been performing on the Vegas strip for about three years when a woman, who had watched him through her hotel window, came and spoke to him.

"Sara had been watching me for three years," he said, recalling the woman who would become his wife. "She said she was going to give me a chance. But, she said, it's my way or the highway. She's cleaned me up. ... She made me a man."

Sara was from Longview and, in time, Holden decided to follow her here, though he knew no one else in the city.

Longview

Anthony and Sara married in December 2011. Together they established S&A Artistry as a project to allow Anthony to showcase his talents in Longview.

Holden said they set up a booth at the Longview Mall as well as at Trade Days.

They also set up at various community events so he could sketch portraits and sing. Holden made appearances everywhere from the Cinco de Mayo festival to a Sidewalk Art event that the Longview Chamber of Commerce sponsored in 2014.

In 2014, when the T-Bone Walker Blues Festival first moved to Longview, Holden also could be found at that event.

"We had a blue tent. I always get excited when I see my tools," Holden said, referring to his art supplies. "I get excited because I know I'm about to make somebody else happy."

He credits his wife with being the driving force behind helping him rebuild his life and said without her, he doesn't know where he would be today.

But in 2014, Sara was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Holden began driving his wife to chemotherapy treatments and watching as the disease took her away from him.

She had children from a previous marriage and went to visit them in Minnesota before her death. She died in Minnesota.

After his wife's death, Holden found himself homeless again.

He met Rudy and Miriam Kiapeta, owners of the Tuscan Pig, through his artwork. The couple saw his sketches, and Holden did a drawing of Miriam. They asked him to paint murals in each of the restrooms at their restaurant on South High Street.

The mural in the men's restroom is reminiscent of Italy, and Holden painted it after seeing photos that Kiapeta showed him. The mural in the women's restroom is more whimsical — on one wall is a light pink building, while on another is a countryside with people in it.

"Once you see the vision, you don't worry about where it's going; you see what it will be," Holden said. "I want to leave people wondering, and I want to give people something to make them feel good inside."

Before he finished the mural, Holden abruptly left Longview. One of his daughters was graduating from college, and he drove to Atlanta because he wanted to see her. He didn't stay long before heading to the West Coast, where he said he auditioned for a TV singing competition.

He then made his way back to Longview, where he came back to the Tuscan Pig to finish the murals for Kiapeta.

"He has a very unique style, and he's been a blessing for us," Rudy Kiapeta said. "We want to do whatever we can to help him."

Kiapeta has been trying to help Holden secure larger projects while Holden continues with his nearly daily trips to McDonald's, where he's become a familiar face among the staff who often give him food.

Customers often are amazed at his work.

"He's excellent. I've never seen anything like this before," Shirley Williams said as she examined a sketch Holden did of her and her husband, Carel.

As he sketched the couple, Holden talked to them about God and the impact faith has had on his life.

"I'm not perfect, and I thank Jesus every day for saving me. I give all the glory to Jesus," Holden said. "I can't do this on my own."

Kiapeta said anyone interested in hiring Holden for his art work can call the Tuscan Pig at (903) 651-1833 since Holden does not have a phone.

"My art (is) a very unique style. It just comes out of my imagination," Holden said. "This is what God sees through me. ... I'm going to keep continuing letting God take over my hands and just showing the beauty of what is inside my heart." Longview News-Journal

Belfast Art Gallery on Move to Bigger Space After 30 years

A family-owned gallery and art supplies store that counts Belfast painter Terry Bradley among its customers is moving from its home of three decades to new, larger premises.

BELFAST, UNITED KINGDOM: Bradbury Art has been based at Queen Street in the city centre.

But owner Richard Brown is transferring the successful business to a glass-fronted two-storey building on Callender Street that was formerly home to menswear store Bogart.

Bradbury Art has four staff, but Richard said he hoped to expand the team once the move is completed.

"We have been here for 30 years. We focus on art supplies and have an art gallery as well," he said.

"We go from intermediate to professional artists. But one thing we are going to do when we expand into a larger space is that we are looking at expanding our price range."

On the impending move, he said: "We have always been looking and there has been a move towards the Victoria Square area - the 'golden triangle'.

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"We believe it's a better location and has better frontage.

"There is great light coming through the glass front, and we are bigger in terms of square footage.

"There will be art supplies on the ground floor and a mezzanine where our gallery space would go. It's nice to have the two different atmospheres."

Work is well under way on the refit of the store.

Richard said that the move would see new brands and products added to the gallery's range.

"It was a relatively good fit-out for us, and we are doing quite a bit of work. We also have lots of new products coming in.

"We have pencilled in our opening date, we are hoping for Tuesday, February 28."

The business will close at Queen Street on February 25, pack up, and transfer to Callender Street.

"We are all looking forward to it," he added.

"Not the move itself, but it's going to be a fantastic place for us.

"The feedback for us from customers has been very good. Parking is so much easier."

The gallery sells a wide range of works by artists such as Bradley and Edward Waite.

Richard said its success had been buoyed by the interest and knowledge of the staff, who are all practising artists.

"We all have our little preferences, but we are all enthusiastic. It's like a sweet shop for artists."

Bradbury was set up by Richard's father Robert, and has expanded in its 30 years.

"Business has been very good," Richard added.

"We have changed ranges over the years, as trends have changed, but it's always been a steady market.

"For us, we have always had good links with art societies and clubs.

"Now parents are coming in with their children, after they once shopped with us. We have a very loyal following."

He said the business had a "whole host" of professional artists who used the shop on a regular basis.

"We have always tried to be very competitive," he added.

"It's quite a niche business, but people like to see the product.

"You can buy over the internet, but people like to see the product.

"We are trying to compete, and really do a good deal.

"Not everyone commands a huge figure for their work."

Commercial property firm Frazer Kidd was responsible for the new letting to Bradbury Art of the former Bogart store. Belfast Telegraph