Area 61, a Chattanooga art gallery featuring work in various mediums by local artists, will be hosting a limited preview opening Saturday from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. to coincide with the city-wide Gallery Hop. Gallery Hop is an annual arts event coordinated by the Association for Visual Artists.
The following Friday, Nov. 22, Area 61 will host a grand re-opening, with events planned throughout the weekend.
"We are thrilled about our new location in the beautifully remodeled Maclellan building, where we can call the vibrant West Village and historic Tivoli Theatre our neighbors," said Keeli Crewe, co-owner and gallery director of Area 61.
Area 61 was founded in April of 2009. The gallery’s name, Area 61, comes from its original location in the heart of downtown Chattanooga’s Southside district, at 61 E. Main Street.
When Area 61 first opened, the gallery primarily featured the woodwork and handcrafted furniture of its two founding craftsmen, David Crewe and Rudd Montgomery, with Ms. Crewe working as the gallery director.
Over time, the gallery’s focus expanded to include the work of other professional artists and craftsmen from Chattanooga and the surrounding area, eventually growing to showcase the work of over 20 professional local artists representing a diverse range of mediums.
Because Area 61 represents local artists, Ms. Crewe says that consistently 80 percent of their art sales are to out-of-town visitors who enjoy the local experience when they travel. Although the Southside still thrives with an expansion of exceptional culinary options and evening entertainment, the gallery saw day-time foot traffic steadily wane. In order to continue their passion for supporting and selling local art, the owners knew they would need to relocate, and they began a search for the ideal place to move the gallery.
Their location scout focused within Chattanooga’s convention hotel district, where they learned about plans to convert the former BlueCross BlueShield “Gold” building into a Westin. They found the spot for the gallery in the remodeled Maclellan Building, right next door to the Tivoli Theatre. With accessibility by the CARTA Free Electric Shuttle and within walking distance from nearby convention and professional conference hotels, the area is concentrated with a mix of both locals and visiting guests.
But the relocation process took two years, which was longer than the owners anticipated.
“I never expected a 24-month ‘gap year’ but have learned to trust the process,” said Ms. Crewe. “Our gallery artists are committed to this move as we know that visiting guests love all things local, including local art. We all believe that our new location is where we need to be to have a sustainable local career in art and our clients from near and far have expressed their loyalty and anticipation for our return.”
Once opened, the gallery’s regular hours will be Tuesday-Saturday from 11 a.m.-6 p.m, and Sunday and Monday by appointment (and the occasional pop-up). The gallery plans to restart their participation in Chattanooga’s monthly “First Friday” events, whose goal is to build awareness about, showcase, and grow the local arts culture. Each First Friday of the month, Area 61 will host an open house with their artists from 5:30-8:30 p.m. and feature a new body of work from their gallery artist community.
Area 61 also offers corporate events, giving business partners the opportunity to use the backdrop of local art to host two-hour client appreciation nights, professional conference welcome events, and more. Ms. Crewe has worked as a corporate tradeshow manager and hosted many client hospitality events in cities across the nation. She said she is excited to have the space to bring high-quality business events together with the local arts community in the heart of the city.
The schedule of events for Area 61’s grand re-opening weekend is as follows:
Friday, Nov. 22, from 5:30-8:30 p.m.—Grand re-opening reception, with the gallery artists in attendance to debut their work
Saturday, Nov. 23, from 11 a.m.-6 p.m.—Grand re-opening festivities will include highlights and collaborations built into the day’s itinerary
Sunday, Nov. 24, from 12-6 p.m.—Grand re-opening continues with “Art for Brunch.”