A conservative budget and a ridiculously brief time frame did not sway the creative team at Rose Center in Morristown when it came to refurbishing the center’s Edith Davis Gallery.
Led by Drew Ogle and Beccy Hamm of Rose Center, the work of volunteers and financial supporters was revealed on Thursday evening during the opening of the Morristown Art Association’s 2014 Annual Juried Show combined with the Morristown Area Chamber of Commerce’s Business After Hours.
The project was completed in just five weeks.
“When Drew decides he wants something, he gets it done,” Hamm said.
Evidence of the gallery’s transformation was visible from the front doors of the Rose on Thursday, by way of the abundance of light streaming out from the gallery.
Gone are the heavy grey carpeted panels that covered the walls and three large windows on the Jackson Street side of the gallery. In their place are areas of exposed brick merging with carefully placed drywall panels. The tall unadorned west facing windows, frames painted a matte black, provide an unrestrained flow of afternoon and early evening light. When combined with the track lighting high overhead, specifically designed for gallery use, the sunlight provides the ambiance that artists and art admirers crave.
“Thank you for being here to help us celebrate the re-opening of the Davis Gallery after its first refurbishment in 25 years,” Ogle, who serves as the center’s director, said while addressing the large crowd.
“The idea to redo the gallery was born in the Rose Center’s Artist Advisory Council, particularly with MAA artists Jim Palmer and Peggy Brewer,” he said.
Ogle also recognized Ray James, Rose Center building manager, who gave up his days off and evening hours to run the project and Don Needham, board member, who helped with initial demolition and carpet removal. Community volunteers Bill Long and Frank Williams were also key to completing the project.
The heavy work was completed by Theron Conklin, owner of Triad Construction and longtime supporters of Rose Center.
The short timeline provided its share of unique challenges, right up until the big reveal at 5 p.m.
“And as we came sliding into home base at 4 p.m. today, Carolyn Roberts and Roberts Cleaning Service were working furiously to help us get ready. Comer Electric turned on the lights at 5:02 p.m.,” Ogle said.
Key financial supporters of the project are Bill and Barbara Hale, Peggy Brewer, Jim Palmer, George Haggard and family, Morristown Art Association, Frank and Debra Williams (in memory of Joan Weesner) and Hans and Brigitte Jehle.
Beccy Hamm was tasked with designing the new gallery space; her challenge was to create a modern updated space, while honoring the heritage of the Rose Center.
“It was a wonderful experience to visual what the space could be and then have someone like Drew allow me to make the decisions,” Hamm said.
A bit of work remains to be done. The original flooring was preserved, with some repairs, but still needs to be finished. And trim work, including moldings, is on the to-do list.
In addition to the key financial supporters, the work on the gallery will continue to be funded by community donations, many of which have been garnered through the Java Jive concert series.
The next concert on Friday, June 13 will feature Jessica Eckenrod, who grew up performing in local theater and graduated from Carson Newman University. The concerts are held at no charge in the Davis Gallery, with donations accepted. Desserts and coffee are provided by the Rose Service Guild, and concert-goers are encouraged to bring an adult beverage of their choice.
For coverage of the MAA show winners and Chamber After Hours, see the Sunday edition of the Citizen Tribune.
-By Glenna Howington, Tribune Staff Writer