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If All Goes Well, the Arts Council’s First Gallery Opening is Downtown Tonight at 6:30; Volunteers Needed

By Rebecca Gitlen

Marsha Holmes sets up the Serendipity Gallery. Photo by Paul T. Choate

June 1, 2012. The Watauga Arts Council is getting ready for their opening in their donated gallery and retail space in downtown Boone with a few hold-ups. The new gallery space is located where High Country Bank’s downtown branch used to be at 798 W. King St. and where Paolucci’s Italian Bar and Grill resides. 

“We’re waiting to find out if we’re going to be allowed to be here,” said Cherry Johnson, executive director of the Arts Council.

On May 25, the council found out there might be some issues with the change in occupancy. It seems that banks and retail are perceived differently under the occupancy and safety guidelines and, after a bit of detective work, the council was able to find out that they needed to have an inspection done by the Town of Boone’s building inspector and the fire marshall, said Johnson in an email.

Laura Graham (left) and Susan Miller setting up the photography exhibit. Photo by Paul T. Choate

The inspection was finished Thursday morning. The Arts Council was told they had to have an electrician come to disconnect the wiring to the teller booths (which had outlets for each teller) and also had to have a safety light installed in the hallway leading to the former drive-through window area.

John Bodenheimer, a retired electrician, disconnected the teller booths Thursday but had to come back this morning for the installation of the safety light. Bodenheimer’s work had to be approved by the building inspector before WAC can be issued a permit for occupancy.

This morning the Arts Council heard from the inspector that there was some new paperwork to be filled out concerning the water and sewage for the building.

Johnson said that according to a new law, if you have any occupancy change in a building, all suites are required to get a utilities meter. 

The Arts Council’s gallery does not have any plumbing, but the law would require them to have a meter.

Johnson is waiting to hear from the Public Utilities Director Rick Miller about whether the gallery can open tonight.

In the meantime, Brenda Ellis has worked, with the help of her husband and Caitlin Morehouse, to get her photography exhibit up. It’s nearly complete. Only a few finishing touches are lacking. It’s looking wonderful, said Cherry Johnson in an email.

Marsha Holmes and her friends from the Serendipity Gallery were to hang their work in the newly relocated Serendipity Gallery this morning at 10 a.m. The Gallery was moved to the hallway leading to the former drive-through window.

“There are a thousand small details to attend to … so anyone who would like to come help out is very welcome!” said Johnson in an email.

Workers getting the gallery ready for tonight's reception. Photo by Paul T. Choate

If all goes as planned, the Arts Council should still be able to have their first gallery opening on Friday at 6:30 p.m. in conjunction with the First Friday Art Crawl.

The Arts Council hopes to have developed the retail side of their operation in the next few weeks. They will sell handmade items like jewelry and purses, as well as CDs and books. 

So… what help is needed?

First, just to pull of Friday night’s opening, the Arts Council needs several things.

They need…

… Reception food. If you can bring a plate of some sort of reception-appropriate food, email Cherry Johnson. Any and all food is very welcome.

… Helpers to make the place pretty. Any extra hands would be much appreciated to clean glass on photos, set up easels, set up the reception food, vacumn, set up information tables, put labels (numbers) on the wall beside each work of art, etc. Volunteers will be at the gallery at 9 a.m. and will likely be there until at least early afternoon and then back again in early evening before the reception begins.

… Volunteers to sign up volunteers.

… A folding table and simple tablecloths, email Johnson with that information.

… Flowers. They would be wonderful if you have some to share.

… An acoustic musician if anyone knows one who would like to come play. They would be welcomed. 

and finally

… a clean-up crew.

The Arts Council will also need plenty of general help with just making sure things are as nice as possible for the evening and also with spreading the word that they’ll be opening.

And of course, they’ll also soon be needing help with getting the retail operation up and running. They’ll need a team of volunteers that will be put onto a schedule. They are looking for people who are willing to help keep the gallery open and to “mind the store” for them.

The reception will run from 6:30 to 9 p.m. tonight and the community is invited to come out and see what progress the Arts Council has made since vacating the Jones House.

For more information, visit watauga-arts.org.