Arts on Main soon to close

ArtWalk attendees visit Arts on Main as director Steve Gruber chats with patrons in this May 2016 photo. 

ELKHART — After nearly six years in business, an art gallery in downtown Elkhart will close its doors in December.

Arts on Main, 205 S. Main St., announced on Facebook on Friday that the Elkhart Art League Fall Juried Show on Nov. 15 will be its last show and the gallery will officially close on Dec. 8.

Steve Gruber, director of Arts on Main, said the gallery is closing due to financial concerns and difficulty finding an affordable operator.

“We had to make some hard budget choices,” Gruber said. “We certainly had great patronage, but the gallery only keeps 25 percent of the sales and rent is $1,000 a month, so you have to sell a lot of $400 paintings to make rent. So, the board decided that was too much of a cash drain, and we figured it was a good time to end the gallery.”

The gallery was a hub to support and promote a variety of local artists and musicians, Gruber said.

The main gallery is located on the first floor while additional gallery space, classroom and meeting space is in the lower level. It also serves as a venue for seeing art, making art and hosting special events.

“I think one thing we were aware of when we opened six years ago is that we’re the only gallery on Main Street,” he said. “It’s not just a gallery where art hung on the wall or you’re looking at jewelry, it’s really for the community to recognize the talent we have in our town."

Gruber said the gallery’s rule for inclusion is that one must be a working artist interested in selling one's work within 40 miles of Elkhart.

“We really shined a light on hundreds of artists and musicians and gave them a nice setting for it where they’re not just having to set up in the chamber for one night, but have an ongoing consistent street presence for all these activities,” he said.

Arts on Main is a project of the Elkhart County Arts Alliance and serves as a home base for Elkhart ArtWalk, a program Gruber said he will continue.

Gruber said he is looking for a space on Main Street that will serve as a workplace for local artists, not a gallery.

He said discussions are being held with the Elkhart Chamber of Commerce. The idea is to pay an operator to recruit artists and musicians for ArtWalk.

“We don’t anticipate having a gallery presence next year,” he said. “It may grow back into that depending on who we’re partnering with downtown, but the plan is to continue focusing on the ArtWalk itself.”


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