Pioneer Art Gallery closes | March 27, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - March 27, 2009

Pioneer Art Gallery closes

Last reception recognizes landlord for his generosity

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

The Pioneer Art Gallery held its last reception March 13 and has closed its doors at 524 Hartz Ave., a primo downtown location.

At the event, artist Stephen Sanfilippo presented property owner Brad Blake with a collage of 36 art canvasses to memorialize the time the gallery run by the Alamo Danville Artists' Society, ADAS, was housed in his building.

"It was a touching exchange, and Brad gave a very gracious speech to our members and guests," said gallery member Tracy Bauer.

Blake agreed a year and a half ago to let ADAS use the vacant building for a gallery and artist work space. The artists moved in October 2007 after repainting and moving some walls, thinking it only would be for six months. That lease was extended as Blake put off plans to redevelop the site, tearing down the building for a new structure with retail on the ground floor and living space upstairs.

The venue became a lively arts scene, as artists worked upstairs and held frequent exhibits downstairs. Even the roof came to life as Phil Hellsten, aka Starman, painted his St. Jude in squares for pilots flying overhead to enjoy. Jam sessions were held Thursday nights, and recently a gift shop was added to sell note cards and other small items.

Now Rakestraw Books will be moving into the space, and ADAS is looking for another downtown location.

But at the farewell reception, the thoughts were positive, said Bauer, and everyone showed their appreciation to Blake for housing their artistic endeavors for so long.