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NRG Gallery Opens in Westgate

Walker Evans Walker Evans NRG Gallery Opens in Westgate
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Nicholas Gonzalez has plans to reinvent what it means to operate an art gallery in Columbus. This artist-turned-gallery-owner was tired of seeing other local venues managed with a rigid traditional structure, so he decided to change things up when recently opening NRG Gallery on West Broad Street.

Located in the Westgate neighborhood, far off the beaten path of the local arts scene, this new gallery promises a more artist-friendly environment, a more affordable commission structure, and open arms to include a wide variety of artists and artwork.

We recently spoke with Nicholas Gonzalez to talk about his new gallery. Read on for our full interview.

Q: First, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

A: I was born in Columbus in 1946 to a Mayan father and an Irish mother. I attended St. Francis of Assisi grade school and St Thomas Aquinas Prep School. I served four years in the Navy and received an honorable discharge. I worked as a restaurant manager, warehouse manager and finally as a insurance underwriter when I retired in 2004. In 2004 my wife died of breast cancer and I was left to raise our 12 year old daughter, Scarlett, who is currently the co-owner of the gallery.

Q: So what led you into wanting to open a gallery?

A: After my wife died, I found I had much time on my hands. So, after watching a segment on Dateline about a seven year old girl who was selling her abstract paintings for $150,000, I decided why not try painting. I went to a Walmart and bought a small paint kit and then went to the library and got some books on Impressionist artists. I soon found I had some talent so I began painting full time and then exhibiting. Through exhibiting I discovered the financial underbelly art and was not pleased. The galleries were charging 35% to 50% commission and some with exclusive contracts (an artist cannot exhibit at another gallery in the area). Also, the fees for a solo exhibition were exorbitant forcing many artists to form groups just so they could show their work, thus leaving out the new and cash poor artists from solo shows. Some galleries try to get the unwary artist to sign on as a resident artist for hundreds of dollars per year and then want them to pay a heavy fee just to hang one painting a month.

Q: So I take it that the NRG Gallery will have a different type of relationship between artists and gallery owner?

A: Yes, I decided to open an artist-friendly gallery on the west side of Columbus in the beautiful Westgate district, a true residential oasis, where I live with my daughter today. The rent is one quarter what they are paying in the Short North which gives me rein to offer the artists very low exhibition fees and 25% commission with a two month non-exclusive contract.

Q: What types of artwork will be shown at your new gallery?

A: We currently exhibit twenty artists whose styles range from the bizarre to the serene, impressionistic to abstract and mixed media to photography. As a matter of fact, our youngest photographer, Kayley Moore, is 16 years old and does fantastic work. We are open to all the people of Columbus.

Q: Do you think being the only gallery in the Westgate neighborhood will be a benefit or a hurdle to attracting an audience and building a base of arts patrons?

A: I had my doubts about the location. There has never been an art gallery in Westgate, but before I even opened the doors, the residents were coming in and wishing me well and offering me assistance and telling me how wonderful it was to finally have some culture in the neighborhood. The Westgate Neighbors Association, headed by Mari Ann Futty and Susie Parsons, was overwhelming in their support. Now they want me to open a coffee shop next door!! We’ll see. I have had people from the Hilltop and from Franklinton come in and thank me for opening this gallery. Everyone believes our gallery will set the tone for the revitalization of the Broad Street corridor by bringing culture and art education to the area. I want to encourage anyone thinking of opening a gallery to consider the Westgate area. I will be glad to assist them. As a matter of fact there is a space next door for only $400/month!

Q: Are there any good opportunities coming up for people to come check out what is going on at your gallery space?

A: We are hosting an artist meet and greet reception this Saturday evening from 6pm to 9pm. In the works are a native American exhibit, a solo exhibition by Santos Gonzales, Jr., a fantastic new abstract artist, a dance concert and yoga in the gallery lessons.

We also offer art lessons to the autistic taught by Aaron Grover, an experienced autism art instructor who has a BE in art education from Ohio State University. This is a very unique gallery offering and we feel we can make a difference in their lives.

Of course, on our staff we also have a very fine portrait painter, who recently painted Mayor Coleman, an excellent muralist, who did all the Vaquero restaurant murals and several other artists who are interior design enthusiasts. Our artists can create whatever you wish.

We hope that our gallery will be a success and a shining beacon to other artists and art enthusiasts.

NRG Gallery is located at 3105 West Broad St. More info can be found at www.NRGGalleryLLC.com.


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