Hot town, summer in the city …

Today is the First Day of Summer and we’d love it if you would join us THIS Saturday evening, June 24th, at 7 PM when we will unveil our latest exhibition of art, showcasing the works of  five very talented local artists: Darlene Fenster, Carol Finlayson, Barbara Pardon, Heidi Reiter and Henry Rhommerdahl.

Our art socials are legendary for the friendships and refreshments we offer and these neighborhood gatherings provide an opportunity for visitors to meet the artists and talk about art. We are especially excited because one of our artists is über talented and has promised to perform just for us!!! You don’t want to miss this!

If you are unable to join us this week, we hope you will visit any Saturday through July 15th to see this lovely art exhibition. We would love to see you again or meet you for the first time!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Last weekend’s 18th Annual Gay Pride Festival in Wilton Manors was a huge success! Well over 10,000 people came out to see the parade and share in the celebration of #peace, #love and #equalrightsforall! Thank you to our fans and followers for understanding why we couldn’t hold our art opening as originally scheduled.

Art: “Tree Tops Hammock” watercolor painting by Heidi Reiter
Gallery Summer Hours: Saturdays, 7 to 9 PM

There’s something about the Smithsonian.

Maybe it’s because it’s the world’s largest museum and research complex, with 19 museums, 9 research centers, and affiliates around the world.

Maybe it’s because it was established in 1846 “for the increase and diffusion of knowledge,” and is administered by the Government of the United States.

Or, it could very well be that we love the idea of the Smithsonian being “the nation’s attic” for its eclectic holdings of 154 million items that chronicle the history of these United States of America.

Art Gallery 21 continues to be amazed at the depth and breadth of the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit, “The Way We Worked,” available for viewing through May 6th. The gallery has seen a steady flow of visitors, each with their own stories to share, because this exhibit connects to everyone as only the Smithsonian can do.

Women taking place of men on Great Northern Railway at Great Falls 1919There are hundreds of photographs depicting everything from the uniforms we’ve worn to the rate of change across the nation as we moved from being an industrial to a technological economy. The exhibit delves into immigration, the history of gender in the workplace,  and child labor, and illustrates the story of the American workplace through videos, audio recordings and an eclectic collection of artifacts as only the Smithsonian can.

Don’t miss it! Exhibit hours are 12 Noon to 8 PM on Friday and Saturday and 12 Noon to 4 PM on Sunday at Art Gallery 21, 600 NE 21 Court in Wilton Manors, Florida.

The exhibit is sponsored by the Florida Humanities Council and the Smithsonian Institute. Paid for by the U.S. Congress. #NEHmatters

The Smithsonian is here!

It is with great pleasure that we write those words! “The Smithsonian is here!”

If you remember from our earlier blog entries, we’ve been “under construction” as the City installed a new ceiling in the former Woman’s Club of Wilton Manors, our home. As is the rule in this life, it took longer than everyone thought it would, so, we were biting our nails and praying it would be done before the opening of our photo exhibit, “WILTON MANORS WORKS” and the Story Slam on March 18th. While it wasn’t completely finished, it was close enough that we were able to host a lovely evening at Art Gallery 21 with the unveiling of 26 charming photographs of people working in Wilton Manors, and our neighboring cities, Oakland Park and Fort Lauderdale.

Story Slam
A storyteller and her attentive audience.

And, the Story Slam … what an incredibly interesting experience for all of us! What courage it takes to stand in front of a group of people and talk about yourself. Yet, the idea of “working for a living” is something each of us can relate to, and, it was in that shared experience that we found common ground. The entire Story Slam was recorded by The Humanity Project, one of our grant partners, and as soon as we have access to the podcast (coming soon!), we will post it here and share it on our Facebook page.

On Wednesday, March 22nd an 18-wheel tractor trailer pulled up at Art Gallery 21 and unloaded 12 very large crates marked “SMITHSONIAN.” Imagine our excitement that it was finally here! We inventoried everything and used “the sticks” to determine where the exhibit would be placed. “The sticks” are, in fact, officially known as Exhibit Patterns. They’re similar to one of those folding rulers, but these sticks we could lay on the floor to determine the footprint of the physical exhibit which helped us to figure out the placement of each of the five sections. It may not sound very exciting, but, what a very clever tool! Indeed!

Smithsonian crates containing the exhibit.

Art Gallery 21 officially opened the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit to the public at noon on Friday, March 24th and the response from visitors has been delightfully enthusiastic! We saw a busy weekend for our docents and we are all looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones as we explore “The Way We Worked” together throughout the month of April! The exhibit is free to the public thanks to a grant from the Florida Humanities Council and the Smithsonian Institution. And, thanks to all our partners, especially the City of Wilton Manors! This is the kind of thing that makes life better here!

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EXHIBIT HOURS: Friday & Saturday 12 Noon to 8 PM | Sunday 12 Noon to 4 PM

 

What we did on our summer vacation…

kitchen-remodel-2Art Gallery 21 has been closed since early June for capital improvements to the Woman’s Club building, the home of Art Gallery 21. The City has remodeled the kitchen and now it is truly the perfect catering kitchen! A new fridge and microwave, food warmers and our own ice machine make it a great small space for cultural events. And, it’s beautiful, with new cabinetry and granite counters. With the reconfiguration of the kitchen, we now have more storage space, too, something every good cultural center needs!

kitchen-remodel-1With these interior improvements comes a new addition which you may have heard about. In the front corner of the building, we are establishing the “official” Wilton Manors Welcome Center. And, we’re very excited about it!

Earlier this year, we reached out to local business leader, Nick Berry. We were wrestling with how to sustain the art gallery and help the Woman’s Club evolve into the cultural center we envisioned. Nick’s answer was simple. “Open a visitor’s center.”

We thought about it. For about 20 minutes. Then, a phone call to City Manager Leigh Ann Henderson revealed that she thought it was a good idea, too.

We made a plan. We met with the Board of Directors of the Wilton Manors Business Association and, after explaining our idea, we asked for their support. They enthusiastically responded with “Yes!”

proposed-coverOur graphic design team created a mock up of the Visitor & Newcomer Guide that will be published in October. The volunteer staff of Good Neighbor Ambassadors will hand the guide out to visitors and newcomers to help them find the fabulous things about Wilton Manors that makes life better here. (“Beach Day,” a watercolor painting by Angie Riserbato, resident artist of Art Gallery 21, graces the first cover.)

By now, you’re probably asking how a Welcome Center can sustain the art gallery, and, it’s a good question to ask.

The answer is accessibility. Since we opened in 2012, our hours of operation have been limited to Friday nights and occasional Saturdays. The Welcome Center’s hours of operation will be Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 12 Noon to 8 PM and Thursday from 12 Noon to 6 PM, a total of 30 hours per week.

Since the Welcome Center occupies space with the gallery, it creates an inviting space for newcomers and visitors, a charming place where they can find out about our island city and all that is offered here. It’s a win for the businesses in the City and a win for Art Gallery 21.

Oh. And, original art is the second most purchased souvenir of travelers after tee shirts.

NOTE: Interested in serving as a Good Neighbor Ambassador? Email us at artgallery21wcwm@gmail.com or complete the Volunteer Application on the City’s web site here. Interested in advertising your business in the Visitor & Newcomer Guide? Email us at artgallery21wcwm@gmail.com. We usually respond within the hour. Thanks!