With the Reg Lenna Civic Center, Infinity Visual and Performing Arts Inc. and The Arts Council for Chautauqua County all housed within shouting distance of each other on East Third Street, the stretch has become a second home for arts-minded area residents.
A few feet from and three stories off the East Third Street walkway is the 3rd on 3rd Gallery, where local and touring artists have shown off their works for one year now.
Housed in the Arts Council for Chautauqua County building, the gallery hosted hundreds of guests from in and out of the area throughout 2011, including several who kept coming back.
The 3rd on 3rd Gallery is now displaying ‘‘Almost Home’’ by Pittsburgh-based artist Jenn Gooch. It is the one-year anniversary show at the gallery, located on the third floor of the Arts Council for Chautauqua County building at 116 E. Third St., Jamestown.
P-J?photo by Scott Shelters
With a full slate of 2012 exhibitions lined up, including the current anniversary show called "Almost Home," the gallery has grown from an empty space into the site of juried exhibitions.
MAKING THE GALLERY
According to Len Barry, Arts Council program coordinator, the process began when the Reg Lenna Civic Center, which owns The Arts Council property, received a grant to restore the building's third and fourth floors.
"Each of these floors has these two gigantic rooms with these big brick walls and arches," he said. "We took the fourth floor and created a large, loft-style apartment for revenue to keep the lights on. Here, on the third floor, we wanted a place where artists could come and do workshops and classes."
Workers began restructuring the third floor into the type of space Barry had imagined. However, with a little help from Jim Colby of Jamestown Community College's Weeks Gallery, plans changed halfway through the construction process.
"Somehow we got to talking about the lack of a street-side gallery," Barry said. "We were walking through this space and Jim said, 'Well, here's your gallery.' I looked around and said, 'Yeah, I think you're right.' Everyone ran with that. All of the sudden, we had this big space we had to fill."
Barry didn't have a formal way to bring artists into the gallery, but a partnership with Active Artists Alliance got the first show, called "All Decks on Hand," off the ground early last year. Bill Thomas and several others had been working together on group shows and came up with the show's concept.
"In the past, not everyone wanted to work with us (at Active Artists Alliance)," Thomas said, "but Len (Barry) actually reached out to us to get us involved."
The show's organizers sent out blank skateboard decks, donated by Suburban Blend in downtown Jamestown, to local, national and international artists. They received more than 50 original works of art and hung the decks from the gallery's walls. More than 130 people attended the show's opening night.
"We had a nice partnership with a large group of artists who had connections with bigger groups of artists, so more people came in," Barry said. "They brought their friends and families, and it just kept blossoming out from there."
Following the "All Decks on Hand" exhibition, the gallery branched out in different directions throughout the year, culminating in a fall show called "These Are Days: 10,000 Maniacs 1981-2011."
Other exhibitions included "Cold Snap," a winter photography show, and "This Must Be The Place," a joint show between Active Artists Alliance co-founders Angela Caley and Tony Depew.
Later in 2011, The Arts Council began planning this year's shows, including the gallery's current exhibition, an installation show featuring works by Pittsburgh artist Jenn Gooch, which will run through the end of the week.
The show features a 23-foot long shirt; an unedited, looping video of someone unbuttoning the shirt; a gigantic sleeping bag; bindles; and other video and handmade works.
The creations, such as the sleeping bag, offer the opportunity for creative thought, according to Barry.
"Some people look at it and say, 'It's a group sleeping bag,' but others might say, 'No, it's for one person. They're kind of enveloped in it, but they're kind of alone,'" Barry said.
Some visitors to the 3rd on 3rd Gallery had the opportunity to discuss the works included in "Almost Home" with Gooch herself. That interaction offers a unique feature for the gallery, according to Barry.
"(The artists will) be here; they'll be accessible," Barry said. "If it's local and regional art, these people are with you downtown. They're at the grocery store. Your kids are playing with their kids. You're not going to get that as much in a larger city."
The gallery's visitors have given Barry positive comments on the accessibility of the artists and on the beauty of the gallery space itself with or without art in it.
Deb Eck, who is helping put together an upcoming exhibition called "Women Create," likes the feel of the gallery.
"The appeal of the space is that it's so urban and loft-like. It's not the typical gallery space in this area. I'm not knocking any of the other galleries in the area because they're all great," she said. "(But) I think (the 3rd on 3rd Gallery) feels more like a big-city space. You can do installation or less traditional forms of work. It's just a beautiful space."
The 3rd on 3rd Gallery hosted more than 700 unique visitors in 2011. Many tourists, particularly diehard 10,000 Maniacs fans, visited the gallery for "These Are Days" last year. Barry believes the gallery turnout was aided by 10,000 Maniacs' two concerts at JCC last fall.
"One thing we want to continue to do is coordinate our shows around things that are happening in the area," he said. "We want to make this as accessible as possible. We're doing more weekend and evening hours. We know where we're headed for the rest of this year and a couple of things for next year, but part of the conversation here at The Arts Council and the Reg is on how far we want to go with this."
The gallery hosts six to seven shows per year presently for six to eight weeks per show. The Arts Council may look at trimming the length of each show in the future to get more art and visitors into the gallery.
"We want as many people as possible to come in here," he said.
Next, 3rd on 3rd will host "Women Create," featuring the works of 41 artists. The exhibition will open Feb. 11 and will run through the end of March. The final day of the show will coincide with SWAN (Support Women Artists Now) Day on March 31.
A preview exhibition for the Chautauqua Lake-Erie Art Trail will follow "Women Create," and "All Decks on Hand" will return in the summer, near Go Skateboarding Day on June 21.
The Arts Council has planned exhibitions, including "Women Create" and "All Decks on Hand," around important times of year for the subjects of the art.
"We try to line up those types of things together," Barry said.
The gallery will host solo, duo and group shows in the future, including exhibitions featuring local artists. The large majority of works featured in "Women Create," for example, were created by Western New York artists.
"We will have outside art throughout the year, but we want to keep that strong local and regional presence," Barry said. "There are a lot of people who haven't been in here yet who should be using this space. We could probably go a few years without having a repeated artist in here."
Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, but those who can't make it during those hours can call The Arts Council at 664-2465 to set up an appointment. Admission to the 3rd on 3rd Gallery is free. Visit artscouncil.com for more information.