Lacombe is losing one of its finest cultural gems.
The former Gallery on Main – now known as the Main Gallery and Framing Studio – will open its doors for the last time on April 30, after 20 years in the community.
“I remember the old building downtown – it was just so cool with its big windows and brick mortar. It was like something you’d find in New York City and I thought: ‘I’d so love to own this someday,’” said owner June Lundie, who took over the business from longtime owner Laverne Jones last July.
“I put my heart and soul into this – Everyone that came said it was beautiful, that Lacombe was lucky to have this, but I can’t carry on.”
Once featured in ARABELLA Magazine as one of the top four must-see galleries in the country, the gallery has displayed the artwork of hundreds of artists, regardless of their style or medium. What was unique about the gallery, was that it was filled entirely with Albertan artists.
An artist herself, and a former president of the Lacombe Art Guild, Lundie was proud to carry on that tradition, however, her love of art couldn’t overcome the current economic climate. Sales haven’t quite lived up to what they were prior to the recession.
“People come in and look at paintings. I know they want them, but they just can’t afford them,” she said. “It’s become a bit of museum. No one’s buying. Artwork is always the first thing to go.”
The hardest part, she says, is knowing artists will have nowhere quite like the Main Gallery to display their work, especially with other galleries closing in the province, including one in Calgary that had lasted three generations.
While the economy and rent of the building set to increase in July both played a factor in her decision to close, so does a lack of general understanding of the value of artwork.
“It’s an education. I didn’t understand it at first either, but when you start getting into it and you learn the value of a piece of artwork, it becomes like car collecting,” she said. “A good piece will be something your kids will fight over. The $40 Bangladesh print from Home Sense will end up in the trash. That’s the education people need.”
While the sun is setting on the Main Gallery and Lundie’s time as owner, there’s still some hope that someone might take it over and save what has been a cultural mainstay in the community for two decades.
“I was hoping someone would be like me last year and step in, relocate it, hold on until the economy is better,” she said. “Even if they take the framing business – it would be such a shame to see that little business go. It does really well.”
A bit of a clearance sale will coincide with the Encore Art Sale and Celebration April 20-21 from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.