Monticello Road is a community arts project in Charlottesville, Virginia. Through photography and a series of public events and conversations, we explore how an art can be an essential, integral and everyday part of a healthy community.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Movin' on up to the West Side

That gray dot in the distance is my 3-foot tall sculpture Niobe. That gives a taste of how vast the new space is, and we're only half-way down this one corridor, of which there are several.

I knew Annette Aaron was up to so something special when she told me that she had news that couldn't be told over the phone. But I was still floored when I learned about the coup she pulled off when she relocated the gallery her mother had established, and where I had shown since the early nineties.

Aaron Gallery was a long-time fixture on the Dupont Circle art scene but the rent has only increased over the past twenty-five years while serious walk-in traffic seriously plummeted during the harsh economic times. Every gallery is feeling the pinch.

Couple that with the headaches that come with prime real estate, such as when a car crashed through her storefront, and Annette was wondering how (or if) she could keep going. Clearly a change was needed, but how?

Moments like those can break us, or--depending on our character--propel us to great things. Annette took the latter course and struck an ingenious deal with one of her commercial clients, one of the nations's leading entertainment law firms.

They would provide her an office and allow her to hang exhibitions in their gorgeous West-End office space, have receptions, and allow visitors through on an appointment basis. This answered several needs at once: it provided a stable, low-cost base for her consultancy operations, which were always far more important than walk-in gallery traffic; it freed her from having to maintain retail-style office hours, and guaranteed a flow of culturally-aware viewers for the gallery's artworks.

The law firm is uplifted by the first-rate curated artwork that now adorns the walls of their public spaces, corridors and several conference rooms. It really looks phenomenal in the light-filled and gorgeously appointed tenth-floor location.

Annette had to make a change, but instead of folding the tent, she did just the opposite: she grew the gallery in a new and spectacular way that will redefine her entire operation and open many new doors. One can only admire the creativity and hope she succeeds.

So far so good.

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