By John Barry and Bill Carmel
A few weeks ago, I (John) was walking past what had been Pegasus Bicycles, on Railroad Avenue in Danville, and saw a sign in the window: Tate Gallery. Tate Gallery?! That's in London. So I peered in the window and saw several paintings on easels. Turns out that the Tate in the name is Michael Tate, a self-taught painter who plans to reinvent the art gallery as a "virtual arts festival" in the former bike shop in the Iron Horse Plaza.
"I want this to be a gathering of the arts," Tate says. In that vein, he plans to integrate music and drama. He is already teaching classes in the building and plans to offer life drawing in the near future.
Tate, who currently resides in Sacramento, had done hand-lettering and sign painting but decided about three years ago to move into fine art. "My motto is, 'Go big or go home'," he explains. After a brief interlude of successfully showing and selling his sports-related and other paintings in art festivals and venues such as wineries and coffee shops, he decided that it was time to establish an artist-friendly venue, a gallery "where people and artists can gather." His perception of galleries and gallery owners as "stuffy and interested mainly in themselves" was the catalyst for "a proper place, a professional place, where high-quality art, music, drama, and other cultural events could become a festival for artists and community."
One of his stops on the art-fair circuit had been Danville. He was able to get a gig showing his work in Lunardi's, and that evolved into his making the acquaintance of several property owners who contacted him soon after he expressed his desire to create a marketplace for the arts. They liked his art and his business experience.
After listening to and speaking with many local artists, arts organizations, and businesses, he is developing a plan for his vision. Events envisioned for February include an art market, where booths will occupy the area surrounding the Tate Gallery at a reasonable cost to artists; classes for children and adults; events such wine pourings by regional wineries; and music recitals. Eventually he hopes to bring in food trucks to gustatorially complement his efforts. "My main focus has to be the events," he says, expecting them to bring in the most revenue. He wants to ensure that participating artists share in the revenue: "I want to break the 'starving artist' myth."
Tate is planning his grand opening for March 1. For more information: http://michaeltategallery.blogspot.com/
John A. Barry is a writer and avocational artist. To share anything art-related or to pitch a story idea, call him at 314-9528 or email email@example.com
Bill Carmel graduated with an MFA from UC Berkeley and then taught art at Humboldt State University and Southern Illinois University. He has worked in many private, corporate, and public venues including the Smithsonian Institute, Laumier Sculpture Park, Veteran's Park in Brentwood, McDonald's Corporation, and Duke Energy.