Opened in June of 1980, PM Gallery holds the distinction of being the oldest continually operating art gallery and retail space in The Short North. And owner Maria Galloway can recall those early days of the neighborhood as if it were yesterday.
“This retail space was raw with holes in the ceiling and holes in the walls, but we took it as is and fixed it up,” she explains. “There were these flickers of life in the neighborhood, and I knew that something was going to happen and that I wanted to be a part of it.”
In addition to running her own business, Galloway was one of the founders of Gallery Hop, which began in 1984 and slowly evolved into one of the most recognizable and cherished signature events in Columbus.
“Gallery Hop has always been a cooperative event,” she says. “It’s always been inclusive and we’ve never told anyone they can’t participate, which I think is very important for a neighborhood.”
While The Short North has seen drastic improvements through the decades, PM Gallery has faced some tough challenges over the past few years. The owner of the building where PM Gallery resides was investigated by the IRS on charge related to tax evasion, which Galloway became entangled in through her business relationship with her landlord. Offices were raided, charges were filed and the investigation has run its course.
“They agreed to drop multiple charges against me down to one charge if I plead guilty and testified against my landlord,” says Galloway. “He was found guilty two weeks ago, and he served me with an eviction notice last week.”
Needless to say, PM Gallery will be relocating this summer. Galloway says that ideally she would like to remain in their current location at 726 N. High St. through the end of July and move into a new space in August.
“We’re looking at a space in the north end of the Short North,” she says. “This neighborhood is our home. I’ve invested most of my life here.”
Galloway is still reviewing available spaces, but is excited to join other arts-centric retailers on the northern end of the district, including Rivet and What the Rock?!. She is also excited about the possibility of being closer to The Garden Theater, which she has been actively involved with since the venue’s relaunch thanks to The Short North Stage theatrical group.
Despite all that has transpired over the past six years, Galloway remains optimistic and in good spirits about what the future holds. She says that she’s still considering the option of closing the store and calling it quits.
“My first impulse was to throw something at the wall and go to bed for a year,” she says laughingly. “But you can’t always go with your first impulse, so I’ve been fighting that one.”
Instead, she’s putting on her “visionary” hat, and cleaning out 30 years worth of accumulated materials to see what would be the best fit for a new space.
“We’ve started a campaign on Facebook and we’re running daily specials,” Galloway says. “We want to see what kind of response we get and see if the audience is out there for us to continue with our business.”