“Art galleries are dying”, “I thought you were retired”, and “Did you make all this art?” were only a few of the things I’ve heard since opening a 2500 square foot gallery in a town with approximately the same population proportionately speaking (25,000). I’m not a math wizard, but I think it might mean there are 1,000 people for every 1 sq. ft. of art gallery. Mercy! I hope that isn’t true.

Regardless, I am turning a proverbial deaf ear to all the warnings, naysayers, negativity, and weird comments to attempt the seemingly impossible task of presenting art for sale to a world that probably doesn’t care too much. My purpose is more esoteric to those in my local art community and for all the rest of the passerby population it poses a puzzling comment here and there. How do I explain myself…and SHOULD I explain myself? Probably not, but that’s not how I roll.

I don’t pretend to be an art expert, but I am an art lover. I don’t have credentials to place me into the company of recognized dealers, but I do have a lovely collection of art in my home. I’m not rich in cash flow, but I’m wealthy in artistic friends in all the arts; visual, written word, dramatic arts, and music. I may not have a head for business, but I do have a heart for art. This is what motivates me.

I’m fairly comfortable in social media, can build a basic website, and handle a Canon well enough to compose, edit, and upload photos. A flair for creating displays helps, too. On top of all that, I was a writer before becoming a visual artist. It sounds like I’m giving you my resume, but it’s more to relate my journey. Through convincing self-talk  I had at least rudimentary skills to nudge me in the direction of laying out my small savings to open the doors of a beautiful, eclectic gallery featuring artists mostly living in East Texas.

My dream has existed about 10 years, but it was MY dream, not my husband’s, and that took a fair amount of maneuvering to create a sense of “I know what I’m doing” and guiding him to catch the vision. Fourteen 8 foot boards, 42 bolts, and 462 pilot holes and cup hooks later he’s shown me that he’s on board after installing a creative art hanging system that will save me a world of agony in the long run. He is my hero! But then…..the “other” shoe dropped.

Recently he announced his frustration that he just realized the gallery wouldn’t make money. Well, I DID warn him of that truth. I didn’t go into this blindly and so even though I prepped him, the fact just now sunk in. That caused me to stand back and re-evaluate exactly why I did do this. Part of his fears are based on the following pattern from 40 years of marriage:

Jobs I’ve held since first meeting in 1974…

  1. coin collector for SW Bell (1 yr)
  2. cashier at air force base store (3 mo)
  3. Fox Photo kiosk clerk (2 mo)
  4. jewelry assembler in the mall (2 mo)
  5. page collator (by hand) for church directories (2 weeks)
  6. Mary Kay Cosmetics sales (1 yr)
  7. Cake decorating business (1 yr)
  8. commentary writer for DFW Suburban newspaper (3 years)
  9. substitute teacher (3 yr)
  10. college student (2 yr, finishing up what I’d not finished from a decade before)
  11. full-time teacher (20 years)
  12. owner of Claudia’s Collectibles at Greenwood Flea Market (1 yr)
  13. owner of Claudia’s Collectibles in Marshall (1 yr)
  14. church secretary (6 yr)
  15. writer for Piney Woods Live entertainment magazine (2 yr)
  16. Administrative Assistant for Marshall Regional Arts Council (14 months)
  17. artist
  18. owner Gingko Leaf Gallery
  19. Not to be forgotten, I raised two kids during all the above.

I’m pretty sure I’ve missed something (I’m serious), but that list lets you know why Rick is suspicious of my endeavors. Honestly, I just see myself as a person who is multi-faceted and loves doing things that involve teaching, creating, and/or selling. “Oh great, another Claudia Adventure,” is probably what he’s thinking. As we say in the South….bless his heart.

I’m in this for the long haul, and here’s why. I not only love art, but I love artists, their quirky ideas, brainstorming, arrogance, creativity, audacity, brokenness, They push me and each other to higher achievement. Sometimes they destroy each other, and then they turn around and help each other. It’s a yin and yang community.

What was I thinking? I guess I was thinking about how artists don’t have enough places to show their souls because for all their fatal flaws and visions they are transparent when baring the soul in paint, clay, stone, leather, metal, fiber, and more. I love being surrounded by the collective soul. You could have that, too, were you to search out that creation that connects with your soul. Kindred spirits know. Come, and be known.

Claudia Lowery

Owner, Gingko Leaf Gallery



  1. “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, and live the life you’ve imagined!” — Thoreau

    Some things I think we just do for ourselves, and in your case, also for others…not just for monetary gain, but because we can’t NOT do it anymore. I cannot way to see your gallery, Claudia! I’m certain it will bring you and others in the community and Rick 😉 a great deal of joy for years to come!


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