MY JOURNEY by Jan Chandler
Heartland Gallery began in September of 2006, after I returned from a six month stay in Ireland with my husband, John. While John was busy working on sabbatical, I was immersing myself in every aspect of Irish culture, and visiting the many artist studios and galleries throughout all 32 counties of this beautiful country. Inspired to share my passion with our local community, I chose to rent a beautiful storefront in downtown Urbana with hardwood floors and tin ceilings, taking advantage of a business incentive program from the City of Urbana. It was a space that I had been in hundreds of times before, as my daughter’s former ballet studio was originally located there. For more than seven years, I displayed here the works of the many artists I met while traveling around Ireland, in addition to my own photography, called Celticscapes. I also featured some artisans from Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Brittany, Canada, and the U.S., as well as a handful of local artists whose work I adored.
I love the idea of blending visual art with other art forms, and the gallery soon took on another life as a performance venue, hosting such musical greats as Celtic harpist/spoken word artist Patrick Ball, Irish harpist Claire Roche, Scottish singer/songwriter Jim Malcolm, legendary Irish piper Paddy Keenan, Cork-born balladeer Mairtin de Cogain, traditional Scottish singer Alyth McCormack with Irish harpist Triona Marshall, and many, many more. Local bands, storytellers, actors, and dancers also graced the performance space in this location, and for five years I sponsored and was a venue for the annual Champaign-Urbana Folk and Roots Festival. In addition, I had the opportunity to branch out and open two smaller booth-sized locations in the Chicago area, one in the Andersonville Galleria in the heart of the trendy Andersonville neighborhood, and the other in the Galleria in Evanston. Unfortunately, due to many circumstances, including my desire to take a break from full-time gallery management, I closed the storefront on Main Street at the end of December 2013.
Ready for a change that would allow me time to focus on my health and family, but not wanting to totally give up the business, I was more than delighted to find that a newly renovated building in Tuscola, IL, just 30 minutes from my home in Urbana, was renting small spaces as artist studios and/or galleries. Owner/woodworker/artist John McDevitt, transformed the former bank building at 100 N. Main Street into the new home for The Vault Arts Collective, after moving from its original location in an old shoe factory in Sullivan, IL a few months ago. I acted quickly on this timely opportunity, rented a space, and moved some of my art and crafts into the new location. The Vault is open every day of the week from 10am-6pm and is full of art, artists, activity, and promise. And the best news is that I can continue doing what I love, but not at the expense of my health or my time spent with family. All artists at The Vault share the time spent working the desk. Special events take place on the first Saturday evening of every month.
Just days after moving into my Tuscola space, I was fortunate to find another such opportunity to display and sell my collection locally. An already existing privately-owned consignment business in Champaign, called Crossroads Corner Consignment, is expanding into 5000 square feet of additional space, and I have rented a space in this new section, Crossroads North. It is located at 723 S. Neil St., in the same building that houses El Toro Mexican Restaurant and a handful of other businesses. Hours are Monday – Saturday, 10am-6pm, and Noon to 5pm on Sundays. The new section opens on February 24, 2014. With the opening of these two new locations, and the fact that I must simplify both my life and my work, I have made the difficult decision to close the two Chicago area booth locations for now.
I have been a member of the North American Celtic Trade Association (NACTA), based in Rutherford, NJ, since 2006, and I regularly attend art and craft shows in both Ireland and Scotland, as well as two annual Irish trade fairs in the U.S. In addition, my connections with the Crafts Council of Ireland and my ongoing personal travels allow me to continually meet new artists to share with you. I invite you to visit my two current locations, in Tuscola and Champaign, and encourage you to click on and “like” my Facebook page. Please share any thoughts you have about my business with me by e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.