Wednesday, September 27, 2006

New Artspace manager is former Shreveporter MaryBeth O Connor; compares Wesley Lake Gallery in Asbury Park, NJ, to Shreveport's West Edge and Artspace

New Artspace manager Mary Beth O Connor
Originally uploaded by trudeau.

Says MaryBeth O Connor, new manager of Artspace, "My gallery work began at the C Lazy U Dude Ranch in Granby, Colorado. I was responsible for the purchasing and sales of Native American jewelry, Navajo rugs, pottery, original and limited edition prints, and the interior design of the Guest Cabins and Lodge. The ranch owner's mother, Peg Murray, was a painter that I worked with closely. At that time she had lost her sight due to diabetes. It was at this time in my life that knew what I wanted to do with my future.

Working in galleries and custom frame shops while I was studying photography gave me insight and experience and the hope of opening my own gallery some day. I worked with a gallery which focused on European Impressionists, and learned the art of creating collections and representing artists from all over the world.

Looking into the future, I wanted to be able to offer a multitude of services in my own fine art gallery and custom frame studio. So, I studied painting restoration in Florence, Italy. It is there that I had the pleasure of studying with Lorenzo Cassamente, who restores Michaelangelo, Giambalogna, and Masaccio's work in Florence and throughout Europe.

I knew when I found the space in historic downtown Asbury Park that it was time for me to venture out on my own. I fell in love with the 2500 sq ft raw space and what was starting to happen with the arts scene in Asbury. There were a plethora of artists' studios, great music (home of Bruce Springsteen's Stone Pony), the Garden State film festival, wonderful restaurants, great galleries, and a community supporting the arts. I knew I needed to be a part of the revitalization of this city.

I opened Wesley Lake Gallery after renovating the space. With dedication and passion I built a clientele of 3500 and represented 15 artists from all over the country. I loved every aspect of the business and took great pride in my work and the exhibitions I curated/produced. When I sold my business there were more than seven galleries in town, First Saturday Art Walks, a bustling downtown and Main St., huge economic growth, and a community being reborn with mulitmillion dollar condos just blocks away. Asbury Park still continues to grow and will flourish with the support of the community, and the creative spirits that are drawn there.

Although they are worlds away, downtown Shreveport and downtown Asbury Park have a great deal in common. The energy and talent is here and is growing, and with this great vision of SRAC's West Edge Arts District we can, as a community, realize our dreams. I couldn't be happier to be back in Shreveport, now more than ever!"

That's funny. Just the other day I was thinking how much Shreveport and Asbury Park, New Jersey, resembled one another.

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