When you buy a piece of art, you buy a gift that keeps on giving pleasure for years to come. In my former career, I managed a little art gallery at Hospice Savannah as part of my role as marketing director. One of the most rewarding aspects of that job was watching folks buy a piece of original art for the very first time. Over the years, I would feel like a proud mother hen as these newly fledged art collectors grew in confidence and bought more work from local artists.
My passion to support Savannah’s creatives and to shine a light on their work is shared by my friend Peter E. Roberts. Roberts is the director of Location Gallery, a beautiful light-filled exhibition space inside Corcoran Austin Hill Realty on the corner of Liberty and Bull Streets. But why, you might wonder, is there an art gallery inside a downtown real estate office? Roberts, who is an accomplished graphic designer, artist, and creator of intricate paper cuts (see my July 11 column) says it’s because his friend Austin Hill is a “philanthropic genius!” It was Hill’s idea to have a gallery, but with the following caveats: “The only way I would consider putting an art gallery in the office would be if Peter ran it and we gave all the proceeds to local nonprofits.”
The first Location Gallery space was inside former Austin Hill Realty office in the Downtown Design District on the corner of Whitaker and West Taylor Streets. (Interestingly, this was the former studio gallery of artist Elena Madden who has since relocated to Islamorada, Florida.) For his first show in March 2016, Roberts invited acclaimed local artists such as Bob and Julia Christian to participate in a group exhibition and held an online voting competition to nominate the nonprofits that would become beneficiaries of upcoming shows. Hospice Savannah won that vote, and so began my relationship with Roberts. Over the years, we had fun coordinating and promoting exhibits and, more importantly, raising funds for a beloved community charity.
Elizabeth DuBose, executive director of the Ossabaw Island Foundation says, “Location Gallery has partnered with Ossabaw Island Foundation on three shows over the years—Jennifer Nolan and Bellamy Murphy at the Bull Street location, and Preston Orr when they were on Whitaker. What the gallery does for local charities is so generous that it defies description. There is nothing else like it that we’ve ever heard of in Savannah—a business model that donates all gallery profits back to the community. Corcoran Austin Hill Realty could be using those funds for lots of other things but instead, we’ve received a generous donation at the end of each exhibition.”
DuBose continues, “We love working with Peter. He’s dedicated to Savannah, and he has a great eye, plus, it’s always fun to work with him! He takes the time to get to know the artists and the non-profits, and he is basically the matchmaker. He creates synergy that brings it all together. Ultimately the artists decide which charities to support, but Peter helps them understand our mission, so that everyone is happy with the partnership. At the gallery receptions, we’ve found that the crowd is usually an even mix of the artist’s followers and our Ossabaw Island supporters. The people who attend for the artist ask lots of questions about our work on Ossabaw, and the Ossabaw people end up with a new artist to collect.” Certainly, a win-win for both the artist and the nonprofit involved, and truly a business that gives back month in and month out.
Coastal Empire Habitat for Humanity’s CEO Zerik Samples says he is extremely grateful for his board’s ongoing partnership with the gallery as, “It’s a great way for artists to promote themselves as well as support Habitat’s mission to partner with frontline, hardworking families to realize their dream of owning quality, affordable homes. We cannot thank Location Gallery enough for their continuing support of our nonprofit organization."
As an artist myself, it feels good to show at Location knowing that I will receive 50% of the sales price and that a deserving nonprofit will receive at least 30%. We do not expect doctors, lawyers, architects or other professionals to donate their work to a nonprofit’s fundraiser, and hopefully the days are long gone when artists are expected to donate their expertise and creativity without any financial renumeration.
Roberts curates a great mix of work by established and up-and-coming artists and does a stellar job of promoting each creative on social media, usually providing them with their own, customized Instagram reel. Always diligent, always reliable, and always highly organized, he has, of course, already lined up his 2024 shows…
…He will start the year with the anthropomorphic romantic oil paintings of Stephen Garrison. A longtime friend of Roberts, Garrison earned his MFA from SCAD in 1999 and now teaches at Marywood School of Architecture in Scranton, PA. Fittingly, gallery proceeds from this show will benefit For the Love of Paws which supports local animal rescue organizations.
Other 2024 shows include a long-awaited and highly anticipated solo exhibition by Mary Hartman; two duet exhibitions – one by Jessica Pope and Brian Condon of collage/found object assemblage art and one of Ossabaw-inspired work by photographer Joy Dunigan and Peter E. Roberts to benefit the island’s Foundation; and three or four group shows. There will also be a very special group exhibition in honor of Hospice Savannah’s 40th anniversary (I’m obviously very curious about that one!)
As we close out the year, I encourage you, as always, to buy art and to buy local! Support our Savannah-based creatives by joining an advocacy group such as ARTS Southeast, visit artists’ studios, attend art shows and art fairs, come to artists’ talks, and give tangible appreciation by buying an original piece of artwork when you can.
Art, after all, is the gift that keeps on giving.
Location Gallery, named because realtors always emphasize the importance of “location, location, location!” is situated inside Corcoran Austin Hill Realty at 251 Bull Street, and is open every day except Sunday. Find out details of upcoming shows under the events tab at locationgallery.net or on Instagram @locationgallery. As mentioned, Savannopoly hangs through December 30 and benefits the Coastal Empire Habitat for Humanity.