Lacombe’s The Gallery on Main is changing hands come July 1st, marking the start of a new chapter for current owner Laverne Jones.
“I’ve been in business for 10 years, and it started out being a ‘semi-retirement going into retirement’,” she explained with a smile. “Well, I’m past the age of retiring and I just decided that it was time.”
She’s looking forward to having some time to explore other interests more fully, like her own passion for creating art. Jones enjoys painting, and carving soapstone and wood among other artistic ventures.
“It’s just one of those things that I don’t have time for when I’m here,” she added. “I also have a huge yard that everyone says is a work of art, too – and it is,” she said. “Again, it’s the upkeep of it. I like to spend time there and you know, as you get older, you just kind of slow down.”
Jones said although there is much she is looking forward to about the next chapter, it was still a tough decision to sell. The Gallery on Main, which houses a wonderfully extensive selection of work from a variety of gifted artists, and has also built up an excellent reputation over the years as well.
“When I moved here (the new location) a year ago, that’s when things really built up again – it was exciting because you are re-designing, you are re-doing things – you are basically having fun again,” she recalled. “I really enjoyed that and I love the location – there’s more traffic, more people, more interaction. The other building had a lot of character, but the stairs cut out a lot of people.
“Here it was about again building up the business, and new people were coming in all of the time saying, ‘Hey – a new location. We like this’. So the decision (to sell) was hard – it took a lot of soul-searching and all the rest of it. But yes, it was time.”
She put the business up for sale about two and a half months ago, and new owners take the reigns July 1st.
And although Jones has owned and managed it these past 10 years, it’s actually been operational for about 20 years. “So it’s a well-established business, and it’s known of around the world. When Arabella, the Canadian art magazine did a feature on the gallery, there were people contacting me from the states,” she added. “People would say, ‘We’ve heard about your gallery through people traveling and we’ve looked you up before’. So it’s interesting – the gallery is very well-known.”
At any given time, Jones has had between 70 to 80 Alberta artists featured throughout the gallery, so the interaction with them has been amazing, she said. “I have these amazing artists, and we’ve also developed friendships over the years that have remained.
“Some that aren’t even producing art anymore, but are still (connected) to the gallery, and they still come in to see me. It’s a ‘friendship’ business. They’ve watched my kids and grandkids get older – they know my kids. So it’s kind of one of those things – it’s a people business.”
In terms of her own creativity, you might say it’s something of a family type of thing.
“Mom was an artist and passed it down to me and my sisters – all of us do something in the way of art. But mom did paint, she sold a number of paintings through her lifetime and was at lots of different shows. So I grew up with art.
“My kids have also grown up with art, and my grandkids, so they are all artistic in their own way as well.”
For Jones, painting and carving offer a means of relaxation as well as creative stimulation.
“You can take a piece of soapstone and you never know what it’s going to be. It’s almost like it has a mind of its own when you start carving – you might think you are going to carve a bear, but at the end of the day it doesn’t necessarily turn into a bear,” she said with a laugh.
With painting, she derives inspiration from the beauty around her. “I have my yard, so right there I see the beauty of nature. And the sunrises – I love sunrises and sunsets. The colours and the vibrancy. Or the Northern Lights – those types of things. That’s what I really enjoy – skies, water and the reflections.
“Art is all around us. All you have to do is look around and you see art in nature. You can see it in just about everything.
“For me, I like specific styles but being in the business side of it, you also appreciate every style. You grow from that.”
She has certainly not lost her appreciation for the gifts that artists bring so consistently to The Gallery on Main.
“I look around here and say wow everyday! You can walk the gallery and it’s almost like you’ve never seen a certain painting before – you’ve brought it in, you’ve hung it, you’ve walked past it a million times – but all of a sudden the light hits it a different way.”
Meanwhile, as July approaches, Jones said she’s feeling a mixture of ‘happy/sad’. But she’s embracing what the future holds with joy.
“Really, I’m looking forward, too.”