“It’s so sad,” said Gretchen Clasby as she walked into the now closed Cedar Hill Studio, pointing to the empty walls. “I liked it here.
The 5,136 square foot space at 196 N. Main St. in Waynesville has been sold, and after 32 years running the art studio, owner Gretchen Clasby must pack her artwork and antiques and move out. .
And while Clasby is sad to leave the beloved downtown Waynesville space, his more than 80 exhibiting artists are now left without gallery space to show off their work.
Over the past eight years, Clasby has opened its doors at Cedar Hill to as many as 90 artists, giving them assigned gallery space and a wall where they could display their work.
“It was never really a problem to fill the walls,” Clasby said, noting that there had always been a long waiting list of artists eager to join the gallery. “It was a perfect building for a gallery…. It’s been an interesting life. I liked.
With the moving deadline looming of June 11, Clasby is working frantically day and night sorting, packaging, selling, donating and even throwing away the items that have accumulated over the years.
“Over the past 28 years I’ve always heard myself say, ‘Just put it in the basement’, and now there’s so much of it in the basement and I have to get it out,” Clasby said with a laugh. . “I just have a lot of things.”
But laughter is quickly replaced by a sigh when she thinks of the artists she has worked with over the years who will never come again.
“I will really miss everyone,” Clasby said. “They were my friends and I loved their jobs. It was so much fun being able to call them up and be able to say, “We sold your work.”
“The greatest joy I have had running a gallery has been giving artists a place to show their work when they have nowhere else to go,” she added. “No one paints the same thing and I will miss it. The experience of when a new painting comes on the wall and then someone falls in love with it.
And now, with the walls mostly bare, Clasby must find a new home for her own artwork as well as the plethora of antiques she keeps in space and storage.
“I’ve always loved antiques, it’s so fun hunting them – especially when you find something that no one else has,” Clasby said, his face lighting up with excitement.
With less than a month to clean up, Clasby said she didn’t have a clear direction on what she would do in the future – but was very excited to have more time to paint.
“I firmly believe that God has a plan for me,” she said. “I don’t know what it is, but I know it’s good.”
Waynesville artist Melodie Mitchell has exhibited at Cedar Hill Studio for the past seven years, and although the income she earns from her art sales has all gone to a public school program, she is still sad to see all the art comes off the walls. .
“This is all happening very quickly,” Mitchell said. “It certainly affects a lot of artists. There are a lot of people who depend on this money, and with the loss of so many festivals last year, it’s been hard for everyone.
Gayle Haynie, another artist from Waynesville, has had her own exhibition space in Cedar Hill for the past seven years, and now only has her works on display at the New Morning Gallery in Asheville and the Stecoah Arts Center in Robbinsville. .
“It was a wonderful experience and it will be difficult to find another place to go,” said Haynie, noting that she used to volunteer at Cedar Hill Studio two days a month. “There aren’t many local galleries nearby. I will definitely miss the camaraderie of this. I got to meet so many people, so many different artists in town.
Additionally, Haynie said she would miss working with such a generous and helpful gallery owner as Clasby.
“If I needed help figuring out how to hang something, Gretchen was on the ladder hanging it up or offering props to use with it. She really went out of her way to treat her artists well and she worked her butt and I will miss that. I’m not sure I can find it elsewhere. “
Jeanne Colburn has been an exhibitor at Cedar Hill Studio since day one Clasby opened it up to local artists, and is in shock now that it will be closed and no longer a gallery.
Colburn was one of many community artists to show up at the final Art after Dark event at Cedar Hill on April 7, which was a touching rally.
“It’s really sad – it’s been a lot of years and a lot of friendships made,” Colburn said. “It’s really devastating because a lot of us artists don’t have a place to show without having to go to Asheville. Gretchen provided such an opportunity for us lesser known artists to show our work. Cedar Hill was different – it was such an eclectic sharing of artists and it was just a wonderful atmosphere.
Colburn also worked at Cedar Hill Studio, but admitted that all of his income ended up being used to purchase items from Cedar Hill.
“My job was to buy him great stuff,” Colburn said with a laugh. “People would come back to the gallery just to talk to Gretchen. I’m not sure Waynesville understands the importance of losing such a wonderful gallery.
With the closure of Cedar Hill, Colburn is now turning to the option of opening his own website to sell his works.
“But it’s not the same as showing in a real gallery,” she says.
To make room
While the antiques stored at Cedar Hill are dusted off, Clasby is preparing for an antiques auction, where she will sell and auction her antiques to free up space in her studio.
The auction will take place over two days. The public is invited to go out on Friday, May 21 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., then again from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. as well as on Saturday, May 22 from noon to 5 p.m.
Clasby antiques will be on display in an artistic way for buyers to view and purchase.
Clasby, who is also the founder of Sonshine Promises collectibles and figurines, also has a surplus of collectibles and greeting cards in her gallery in need of a new home. Her Sunshine Promises collection includes a heartwarming message and inspirational Bible quote, and Clasby would like to donate the items to a local ministry.
“I just can’t throw them away,” Clasby said.
Any local ministry or faith-based organization that would like the items is welcome to contact Clasby to coordinate a donation.
To learn more about the auction or to learn more about Sonshine’s promises, call Clasby at 828-421-6888.