Biddle Gallery 1995-2012
In 1994, Ross and I were restless. He hated his job, so I told him he should quit. It’s the first and only time he ever listened to me! I, on the other hand, had a pretty cushy job as an office manager for a large automotive aftermarket warehouse. Ross went back to school and took a part time job in the shipping department at Pewabic Pottery, which allowed us to take free classes at the pottery. Who knew sticking our hands in mud would change our lives!
One day we got this crazy idea that we should start our own business, so we put an offer on a building in downtown Wyandotte with plans to open a gallery featuring pottery and handmade tiles. Our offer for this dilapidated building was not accepted.
Nine months later, my Aunt Lena passed away at the age of 52. My boss at the time, Ron Galecki had just left GM to start a truck accessory business. I was talking to Ron how life is short and worried I would wake up one day without trying something outside my comfort zone. I was telling him what a bummer it was that we didn’t get the building in Wyandotte. Ron asked if it was still available and when I said yes, he said put another offer in! So, we did, and they accepted!
We sold everything: our house, boat, camper, motorcycle, and on October 2, 1995 we signed the papers to purchase the building at 2840 Biddle Avenue in Downtown Wyandotte.
On December 2, 1995 we sold our first painting – actually 2 paintings by Bruce Tims (you never forget your first!) This event started the first of many happy dances in the back room.
We really had no idea what we were doing. Fortunately, our first show featured Gordon Price. Gordon guided us in creating press releases, postcards, and setting up our first major event. It was a huge success thanks to Gordon, and Frank Pahl whose band, “Only a Mother” performed to a packed gallery during an unseasonably warm night in February 1996.
Biddle Gallery strove to provide work by artists who enlightened viewers either politically, socially, environmentally, spiritually – heck, even mathematically! If the artwork happened to look good above a couch, that was fine, but we wanted more than that, and felt our customers did as well.
We cranked out some pretty amazing events, but one of my favorites was Summer Solstice. This took place annually for a few years, commencing exactly at the time of the start of summer. Animated movies by Dave Moroski and Davin Brainard, along with a lively sidewalk performance by Charlie Slick, complete with bubble machine, confetti and light show had everyone dancing in the street!
Some events received national recognition. A few standout: Monkey Day on December 14th, which featured simian theme artwork (customers received a banana with every purchase); our holiday show was featured in Niche magazine; paintings from Janet Allinger’s series, Flying Nun got us on the Catholic Anti Defamation League’s naughty list along with some threatening phone calls from some very angry and not so nice Catholics.
It was an incredible 17 years at Biddle Gallery – from our first show featuring Gordon Price to our last artist-in-residence, Megan Gurisko who brought so much excitement in the summer of 2012, and all the others in between who made Biddle Gallery an amazing space. We learned much and met some incredible people along the way – many who have become life-long friends. Thank you to all the artists who enlighten us. We continue to see the world around us in a whole new way and for that, we are grateful. We could not have done it without you!
Good things end so better things can begin. As we did 17 years ago, we sold everything and are starting over.
To be continued….