Sarah Gormley’s Passion Project: A Gallery in the Short North
Before Sarah Gormley opened her first gallery, the space at 988 N. High St. housed a local men’s clothing boutique. There may have been a pop-up gallery at the space in the between time, but Gormley wasn’t living in Columbus at the time and says she can’t be sure.
While she grew up just an hour away in Zanesville, Gormley’s marketing background has taken her around the country, climbing the corporate ladder in cities like Chicago, New York and San Francisco.
Now a self-employed marketing advisor and Short North resident, Gormley has opened Sarah Gormley Gallery, between Lindsay Gallery and The Lamp Shade.
She says her passion for art grew out of receiving her first piece of artwork from her grandmother when she graduated from college.
“I just feel like art is a source of joy. And I think it’s actually so much more accessible than people might think it is,” she says. “I always thought, wouldn’t it be great to have a gallery where you get to connect artists with individuals? And so 25 years later it’s happening.”
The opening of the Sarah Gormley Gallery started off simply as a conversation.
“I can’t remember who it was, but somebody found out I was interested in perhaps opening the gallery, and this space was open,” she says. “So then they emailed me about the space and I came and looked at it.”
Gormley feels that art is something people are naturally drawn to, like an “emotional stirring,” she says. The feeling of connecting emotionally with a painting or artwork doesn’t necessarily have to be related to its subject matter; art can evoke joy regardless of the style or tone.
That feeling, she says, is something she wants to make more accessible with her gallery.
“For the customers or clientele of this gallery, it’s buy what you love,” she says. “My observation has been that some people think that art is something that’s almost for an elite group, or it’s so expensive. So now I’m in a situation where I have the opportunity to connect some first time buyers with artists, and that’s super exciting.”
Amy Schuessler and Duncan Snyder are Gormley’s third featured artists since opening in April. The photographers are CCAD alumni whose award-winning collaborations began in 2016.
Their work is composed of a number of different processes. Shooting with film, digital, toy cameras and other tools, the two gather shots concurrently.
The different shots are brought together through a loose theme or idea — like geometry, language or the supernatural — and layered in a digital format. Once printed on large, heavy-weight watercolor paper, the artists then add a personal touch using other materials like ink or spraypaint, in addition to the natural marks and residue picked up during the shooting process.
For their show, titled “PH44 Traces & Fragments,” Schuessler and Snyder’s pieces are displayed in the gallery as is, without frames or matte finishing.
“We don’t like to press them or put them under glass or have them be contained,” says Schuessler. “All the mark making is pretty subtle. And at a distance you can’t quite tell, but if you go up sideways, you’ll see that the light glints on some ink or you see different things.”
Moody, dense and reminiscent, Schuessler and Duncan think of the images as dreams; emoting the feeling of one grasping at a reverie or faint memory.
“We find that that’s a really satisfying aspect for us, that the viewer is really just sort of drawn in,” says Schuessler. “We’re not trying to convey a specific logic or meaning or truthfulness to the work. We like for it to have its own sort of soul and sense.”
To get her “foot in the door,” Gormley has so far only featured individual artists or collaborations. Gormley has featured French-born Worthington artist Christiane Curry, who at 79 years old held her first solo show at the gallery in May.
Gormley will likely relaunch in September, arranging the space more like a traditional gallery, with a roster of artists in addition to a monthly show.
She is hesitant to say whether the gallery will be more of a part-time gig or not. She originally planned for a pop-up gallery that would only last a few months; instead, she recently signed on for the next year.
But Gormley says she loves the space and her neighbors, who have been supportive and encouraging.
“I have a terrific neighbor with Duff (Lindsay) next door,” she says. “Adam (of Blockfort) has been a godsend. He’s helped me think through things, helped with the installation, and I love his work. So really, the whole community has been so supportive.”
“I’m seeing that running a gallery is a full-time job,” she continues. “Between being in touch with the artists, getting ready for the next show, marketing and social media. So I’ll spend some time within the next few months figuring out the balance.”
“PH44 Traces & Fragments” will be on display at Sarah Gormley Gallery through the end of June. For more information visit sarahgormley.com.
For more information on photographers Amy Schuessler and Duncan Snyder, visit their website at ph44adsarts.com.