Original art everywhere: Businesses act as 'gateway galleries' for many artists


Marty Olson, owner of Do's Deluxe at 416 E. Ninth St., works on Susan Schott's hair. Olson routinely displays work by local artists in his salon, as a way to add to its decor and also to support the artists' sales and visibility.


Molly Curtis of Lawrence enjoys a relaxing drink while working on her laptop at the Bourgeois Pig, 6 E. Ninth St. The coffee shop features a rotating display of work by local artists, which is for sale.


"Satan Goes to College," a painting by Colby Earleywine hangs inside Papa Keno's Pizzeria, 1035 Massachusetts St. The restaurant displays work by budding local artists, who have made some sales through exposure there.


"Red-Head-Space" by Colby Earleywine hangs inside Papa Keno's Pizzeria, 1035 Massachusetts St. The restaurant displays work by budding local artists, who have made some sales through exposure there.


Original artwork by several area artists, including Jaime Hubert-Rovenstine's paintings in the foreground, is on display next to hair products at the Blue Dot Salon, 15 E. Seventh St. The salon is one of a number of Lawrence businesses that offers its wall space to artists trying to sell their work.

Vibrant-colored walls with striking, one-of-a-kind still-lifes like “Universe in a Wooden Bowl” and “Kohlrabi Nebula” hung on them add personality to Marty Olson's salon.

For Olson, being surrounded by an ever-rotating supply of original art as he does hair at Do’s Deluxe, 416 E. Ninth St., is “a joy.” For Kaylyn Munro, the Lawrence artist who created the work on display there, it’s an opportunity.

“He cuts somebody’s hair every 45 minutes, so he’s got a steady stream of people coming in,” Munro says.

Dozens of Lawrence businesses — from coffee shops to restaurants to salons and even dentist offices — are taking advantage of similar symbiotic relationships with local artists.

Traditional galleries charge sizable commissions to sell artists’ work, but the services they provide include professional curating, promotion and sometimes wealthy client lists. At non-gallery businesses, few charge commissions on sales but the approach is more passive.

“At a gallery you’re getting dedicated gallery space, and that’s the sole purpose,” says Lawrence artist and Final Fridays coordinator Molly Murphy. “And at a coffee shop or restaurant it’s more integrated into the whole experience.”

Among non-gallery businesses, the level of formality varies.

Some pay an experienced person to curate shows — Murphy, for example, helps select, hang and promote art at Pachamama’s restaurant, 800 New Hampshire St., and the Bourgeois Pig, 6 E. Ninth St.

The owners of those businesses, she says, are willing to take on the extra cost because they enjoy having the artwork decorating their walls and want to support local artists.

The Blue Dot Salon, 15 E. Seventh St., has a totally different look that fits the business’s funky space and fun vibe.

“If they want to show, we let them show,” salon owner Ames Burdett says of artists, who hang their own work. “We’re all about eclectic, and just colorful, happy, bright stuff.”


For many artists who don’t have the resume or body of work needed for high-end gallery representation, businesses can be like gateway galleries.

Jaime Hubert-Rovenstine, a Lawrence native now living in Kansas City, Mo., went to art school in Chicago and had work exhibited in galleries there. She’s gotten into galleries since moving to Kansas City but credits her first show with helping her break into the scene — Missouri Bank in the Crossroads Arts District, where Hubert-Rovenstine works full time, featured her in one of its rotating exhibitions.

Hubert-Rovenstine’s paintings are among those on display this month at Blue Dot, where her mom gets her hair done.

“It was a great opportunity for my friends and family in Lawrence who’d never been able to come to one of my shows in Kansas City to come and see my work,” Hubert-Rovenstine says. “There’s a philosophy that if you show your work as much as possible, there’s no harm in that.”

Munro, a Kansas University painting major who returned to art a few years ago after a career in architecture, says Lawrence had next to no opportunities to show work when she graduated around 1980. Now, especially with the popularity of Final Fridays, all kinds of venues are open to it.

“It’s got momentum, and it’s not going to stop,” she says.


Since taking over Papa Keno’s Pizzeria, 1035 Massachusetts St., last year, operating partner Brandon Graham enlisted help from Eric Kirkendall of Lawrence Community Workshop in putting the restaurant’s big brick walls to use.

Papa Keno’s installed a framework that makes it easy to rotate artwork, Kirkendall chooses and hangs work by local artists, and quite a few have sold.

“It looks good, and people find it interesting,” Graham says. “And we’re happy to help with the artist community by connecting them with the community in any way we can.”

Olson, who’s been displaying art at Do’s Deluxe since it opened at its current location 17 years ago, currently plans and installs six shows a year with opening receptions on Final Fridays.

Olson is a painter himself and says he’s happy to offer his wall space for other budding and established artists alike.

“I’ve always appreciated businesses who let people show their work,” he says. “It just really gives them a sense of encouragement and pride.”


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