By Katie Benfield
The Nth˚ Gallery & Studios, a “never-for profit” art gallery here in Boone, will be celebrating its 20th anniversary this Friday, July 7. The Gallery features artists that are both local and regional with year-long exhibition seasons and monthly shows on the first Friday of each month.
It all began twenty years ago in a coffee shop. A small group of artists were looking for a space to create and show their work and to other people’s work. The coffee shop they had gathered in displayed local art from young and upcoming artists, but otherwise, there were very few opportunities for artists in the High Country to work and to have their work seen.
“We wanted a place to work and to show our work. We came across the space in downtown Boone,” Brian Lee, a founder of the Nth˚ Gallery & Studios, said. “It took almost a year to clean it all up, and paint and patch, and get it to where we could actually put on a show.”
An impressive twenty years later, the underground gallery is still going strong. Because it is a non-profit, and an underground non-profit at that, it is thriving off of donations and community support. The Gallery is run strictly by volunteers – members of the gallery – who work together to keep the place up and running.
“We have 6 studios, 7 members and 2 gallery rooms,” Lee said. “Once a month, we will put on a show that is open to the public.”
Other than the monthly show, and the weekly meetings on Mondays, the Gallery is closed to the general public, only being available to the members who are currently using the space.
This month, the Nth˚ Gallery & Studios will be opening up its doors to the general public on Friday, July 7. This event will be both the Gallery’s primary fundraiser for the year and the celebration of 20th anniversary of the Gallery. It will be participating as part of the First Friday Art Crawl in downtown Boone.
“At this event, people can look forward to art by members and former members, the return of the Free Expression Wall,” Lee said, “and food and beverages. However, it is BYOB.”
For those of you who may not be aware, the Free Expression Wall is a singular, specifically designated wall within the gallery that participants of the event are allowed to paint and draw on. The paint and paintbrushes will be provided by Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff.
“We haven’t done the Free Expression Wall in awhile,” Lee said, “so that will be part of it.”
Over the last two decades, regardless of the kind of art that came through or where an artist came from, the Nth˚ Gallery & Studios has been home to a varying array of artwork.
“We’ve maintained our integrity. I’m very proud,” Lee said. “I’m proud of all the members that have come through over the years and all that has been accomplished.”
The 20th Anniversary celebration will be taking place at the Gallery (683 W. King St.) at 7 p.m. and there will be artwork from present and former members of the studio.
Because the underground art gallery is never-for-profit, donations are always welcome and encouraged.
“We are so happy to still be a part of this beautiful community,” Lee said.