by Gene Marrano
The art gallery and gift shop “Art Beyond Center,” formerly located on the ground floor at Center in the Square, has now moved one block east to the old Shenandoah Hotel building, formerly the home of Twists & Turns. The move, necessary because Center in the Square is undergoing a transformation, also spawned a new name for the gift shop – “One Block East.” Woodworker Rick Stump and his wife Debbie will manage One Block East, which features works by local artists and gift items that might attract tourists.
Rick Stump said everything, including a business license, should be in place within the next week or so. Multi-media artist Cheryl Dolby, who exhibited at the Center in the Square space, was asked by the Stumps to participate at the new location. “I’d go any place with these guys,” said Dolby, who will show her paintings, and may add sculptures later on.
Dolby often exhibits her wares from the back of a multi-colored, tiled van at the Farmer’s Market. She likes the new space, which is on a busy corner and full of windows, even better than the one at Center in the Square. Dolby also stays busy these days teaching small sculpture classes at her home. (Contact healingwoman.blogspot.com for more information.)
Artists will pay a monthly fee in order to exhibit at One Block East and will share the proceeds with the store. Stump isn’t sure if the shop will return to Center in the Square once it reopens after renovations next year. “It depends on whether they have any openings,” said Stump, who has been in conversation with Center president Jim Sears on the matter.
The Shenandoah Hotel building, owned by Center in the Square, is on the market as well, with an asking price of more than $2 million, so One Block East’s tenure may be short-lived. It has also been used by Mill Mountain Theatre to house visiting actors, and as a rehearsal space.
Stump, whose wife Debbie also works in development for Roanoke Catholic, has crafted items as large as grandfather clocks for sale at One Block East, which plans to be open during the monthly Art By Night event. He will toil away on new works in one corner of the newly located gallery, and said other member artists can come in to work as well, turning it into a studio of sorts.
“When it cools down, hopefully we can have some people outside painting like we used to do at ‘Center,’” said Stump, who may also promote artwork that is linked to exhibits at nearby museums. Across the aisle in the same building, the History Museum of Western Virginia has opened its doors in a temporary space. Stump likes the idea of extra foot traffic, and says “I think we’ll draw some people here.” The History Museum is also using the Shenandoah Hotel to store much of its extensive collection.
Stump said One Block East will be ready to go as soon as all of the licensing is in place, possibly by the end of this week.