Art in the Heart gallery won't be closing after all

Matthew Lane • Dec 17, 2017 at 3:00 PM

KINGSPORT — The Art in the Heart Gallery is not closing after all.

The downtown gallery — which was expected to close at the end of the year — will remain open in the same location and with the same operating hours. The only difference will be who’s in charge.

The original purpose

Art in the Heart was established as the Flying Pig Gallery (located at 246 Broad St.) in the summer of 2014 to showcase Kingsport’s Carousel Project. The gallery eventually grew beyond its initial mission and started offering a wide variety of local fine art for sale, a place for special shows and exhibits and space for artists to work.

This past fall, the Kingsport Art Guild determined the existing space at Art in the Heart wasn’t the right space and that it needed more room, especially since more classes were being held in the gallery. At the same time, the landlords were looking to develop lofts in the upstairs space, and construction would have a significant impact on the operation of the gallery.

In short, everyone knew the gallery needed a new location.

A change in leadership

Art in the Heart is no longer under the umbrella of Engage Kingsport, a nonprofit that works with the city’s office of cultural arts and spearheaded the carousel project. The gallery is now being overseen by a group of twenty-some artists who have come together to create a co-op, explains Patti Lawrence, president of the new organization and an assemblage sculptor for more than 25 years.

What that means is the artists will pitch in money to pay the rent and bills and some of their time to man the shop, each one working one or two days a month to cover the hours.

“The news of our upcoming closure has been met by so much outcry from the community and our patrons that we just couldn’t ignore it,” Lawrence said.

Support the arts

Art in the Heart is open and will remain so until Dec. 23. The gallery will then close temporarily and re-open Feb. 1. The loft development that was to take place above the gallery is temporarily on hold, Lawrence said. When that work gets back on track, the gallery will make allowance for it.

The gallery will keep the same hours (11 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and the same days of operation (Wednesday through Saturday), Lawrence said. The adult workshops and classes will also remain.

“We’ve got such a strong following here that we don’t want to leave. Kingsport’s downtown is the most progressive and ‘arts friendly’ of any of our neighboring cities,” Lawrence said. “Our city leaders, the DKA (Downtown Kingsport Association) and downtown developers know that a strong arts presence is necessary to the financial revitalization of a city.”

The Art in the Heart gallery can be reached at 480-9702 during normal business hours.