Well, you don’t have to…not when we have Gallery 116 right in our own backyard! The quaint bungalow at 8579 E. 116th Street is home to countless, creative creations from local and national artists.
There’s handmade jewelry, pottery, artwork, casual clothing, pet accessories and a complete line of home decorating services that includes custom floral arrangements and window treatments. It is a shop that offers one-of-a- kind items that are not mass produced for a department store.
And, this shop offers even more… support for local artists.
The gallery was started five years ago by artists and Geist residents Denise Town and Tracy Gritter. Town, a floral designer, and Gritter, who can paint anything within arm’s reach, started out making oil candles from wine bottles back in the ’90s in Town’s basement.
“When it was time to finish the basement, I knew we needed to move out,” says Town.
And they did.
But they wanted more than just a place for themselves. “We wanted a place for our work and a place for other vendors to sell their artwork, too,” Gritter said.
Today over 60 vendors/artists sell their work at the gallery. The artists range in age from 14-year-old Rebecca Hart with her handmade jewelry called “Becca Beads,” to an artist in her Golden years who paints glassware, platters and trivets.
“If you are looking for something special and you don’t see it, we can probably have it made for you!” says store manager Paige Hunkin.
Town and Gritter recently taught some teenage gals working in the shop the art of making jewelry. The girls now sell their necklaces and earrings, as well as push pins, magnets, candle snuffers and umbrella charms.
And new this year, the gallery reached out to local artists with a holiday décor contest…offering winners the opportunity to sell their artwork at the shop for the holiday season. Geist resident Karen Leewood won for her beautifully hand-painted Santa faces on canvas ($75); DeMaris Gaunt won for her stained glass, beaded Christmas tree ornaments ($16), and Ann Henn for her handmade stockings, that should certainly be hung by the chimney with care ($52).
So if you are looking for a unique gift (how about a necklace made from the “back space” key on an old typewriter, or a wine stopper made from an antique door knob), or, if you are in need of home design/décor services, you can find it all at Gallery 116.
If you’d like to see more of what Gallery 116 has to offer, go online to www.atGeist.com to view a video clip featuring the gallery and a clip with Manager Paige Hunkin on this year’s Holiday decor winners.