artistic diversity reigns
Story by Audrey Hanes; photo by Dero Sanford
In recent years, many area leaders have worked to turn Downtown Jonesboro into a cultural and artistic oasis, so when Michael and Kellie Holmes decided to open an art gallery to specifically showcase unique local artwork, Downtown Jonesboro seemed like the perfect location for Gallery 451.
“The downtown area just seems to thrive on a mixture of new and old,” said Michael of why he and Kellie chose to open the gallery at 304 South Main Street. “We love the history and sense of community in Downtown Jonesboro. As more and more downtown businesses flourish, the area becomes a more walkable and unique cultural experience of food, art and nightlife for those in Jonesboro and those visiting the area. Clay Young has been a big supporter and helped us find a place that we loved.”
The idea to open an art gallery was relatively new to the couple, who already had a lot on their plate with their full-time jobs and their two sons, Jagger and Jett. It all started when Michael, a marketing director at Stuck Associates, and Kellie, an account executive at Sunbelt Finance, began noticing that there were many talented area artists who were working from their homes and had no platform where they could show their work.
“Few artists can dedicate the time and resources needed to open an art gallery or studio for just themselves,” said Michael. “Most have busy lives, jobs, kids and responsibilities that limit the amount of time they can dedicate to the arts. We wanted to provide a place for this type of artist to be able to display their work, enjoy the recognition for their talent and make a little money on the side.”
For both Michael and Kellie, it was important that Gallery 451 bring together primarily local talent. Now, more than 20 different artists have their work displayed at the gallery, most of whom work out of Jonesboro, Hot Springs and Little Rock.
“It took a lot of coordination and a lot of really great friends and family to get started,” said Michael. “In the beginning, we had to spend our weekends visiting artists and picking up their work. We wanted to make each artist’s experience as personable as possible so that when our customers come in and ask us questions about each art piece, we are able to convey the story of where each piece came from and any meaning behind it.
“We are very fortunate to have such brilliant people be a part of the gallery, and they helped turn the process into a wonderful experience. We have been able to meet so many artists and have been able to see how they do their work.
(Gallery 451) creates a unified place where people can find completely original works of art that otherwise may have been intangible. It lets Jonesboro see a lot of great talent and will hopefully be a great asset to the art community.”
The art at Gallery 451 is as varied as the artists who showcase their work there. The diverse blend of artists from all different backgrounds and levels of experience showcase a wide variety of paintings, wall art, hand blown glass sculptures, screen printing, pottery, wood carved sculptures, furniture and photography.
The couple is proud of Gallery 451’s other unique features, including the custom artwork that is available there. If a customer doesn’t find exactly what they’re looking for when they visit, there are several artists on standby who can create custom works of art based on colors, style and size.
It was also important to the couple that the gallery was a socially responsible venture, which is why they initiated “Art for Lives” in which the gallery gives a percentage of all sales to the Batey Relief Alliance (BRA). The BRA is an independent, non-profit humanitarian aid organization that is committed to addressing the socio-economic and health needs of children and their families severely affected by extreme poverty, disease and hunger in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. In association with this cause, Gallery 451 also features a large section of work by artists in both Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Gallery 451 held its grand opening on June 10, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
“It has been great,” said Michael of the support. “We love that the community has embraced our venture and shown its support in numerous ways. We look forward to being a part of local business for a very long time.”
For more information about Gallery 451, visit gallery451.com or call 351.7820. The gallery is open Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and by appointment.