Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Gallery Space Talk: The Progress Energy Art Gallery

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I recently interviewed Lia Gallegos. Lia is the director of the Progress Energy Art Gallery. Feel free to contact Lia if you are interested in exhibiting.

Q. You are the director of the gallery. Can you tell our readers a little about yourself? Are you an artist as well?

A. "I have had a passion for the arts all my life but through the course of events, I ended up focusing on the commercial arts rather than Fine Arts. In 2002 I moved from the Portland , Oregon area to West Central Florida , experiencing an immediate and life-altering culture shock. I found that I had taken for granted the plethora of art that surrounds the residents of Portland on a daily basis and missed that aspect desperately. The rain; that I could do without! So once I recovered, I realized I needed to get involved in the local arts community to do my part in guiding its redevelopment toward being a more artistic and cultural haven for the Creatives I knew were hiding here. Not only have I been the volunteer Director for the Progress Energy Art Gallery for the past two years but I have been involved with numerous art groups, have assisted in organizing public art events and involved myself with City government through the Cultural Affairs Committee."

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Q. Have you had past experience as a gallery director?

A. "I have not worked as a Gallery director before, although I have owned my own business for several years which gave me the necessary skills for marketing and managing the Gallery. My life-long interest in the Fine Arts and experience as a graphic artist made it possible for me to work with artists and understand the expectations of the community."

Q. What is your gallery 'about'? What kind of artists do you represent?

A. "Our Gallery’s mission statement should cover both questions:


Through the exhibition of emerging regional artists and established regional and international professional artists that expands the art experience for the community;


Encourage residents & visitors of all ages to participate in the experience of all aspects of the arts (visual, written, performing) (appreciation and creation) through public awareness campaigns;


Offer educational programs in the business of visual arts to artists and general Arts education for the public. Provide lectures and workshops. Promote apprenticeships and mentoring programs;


Promote and assist in raising funding for public art programs in the City of New Port Richey that feature works by local artists."

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Q. What is the history of your gallery? What is the origin of the gallery? Who were the 'key players'?

A. "The Gallery was created three years ago by the Greater New Port Richey Main Street Organization; it is the local manager for the State of Florida’s Main Street program under the National Historic Preservation Program. Main Streets all over the Country are working diligently to revitalize historic downtown districts. Our board was relocating its office at the time and decided rather than putting another service business in a downtown store-front, they would instead, front their office with an art Gallery. Our local energy company, Progress Energy, was approached because they have a reputation for being a strong supporter of the arts in the Tampa Bay region. Their annual grant has allowed us the ability to spear-head the revival of the Arts and Culture movement in our downtown."

Q. What is the 'art scene' like in your area?

A. "The art scene in New Port Richey (Florida) is growing. It’s really an exciting time to be here and be a part of the events that are taking place. Our entire area is experiencing regeneration and renewal with many younger residents with more expendable income moving to the area. That means we have more exciting art than ever before AND we have more buyers looking for art. It’s still very early in the process though, and we are in desperate need of more galleries and more groups dedicated to the discussion of the arts and the creative process as well as professional artists who are working full time at creating their art. Residents already have spoken, they LOVE the arts and want to see more of it in the area…..artists now need to get involved in the community building effort if we are going to be truly successful."

Q. Has the market been good for the artists you represent?

A. "Because we represent such a vast array of artists of all levels from emerging to seasoned professionals, we don’t have quite the same method of marketing as most commercial galleries. Despite not being able to specialize, we do have a relatively good market for our artists. I have noticed that the trend lately has been that Expressionistic and Cubist pieces with vibrant colors and bold strokes are very appealing to buyers; also black and white photography has been going rather well too. But in my experience I have learned not to count on the status quo or even my own opinions; art is subjective and if it moves a person, they will take it home with them."

Q. Do you have any links to the websites of the artists that have exhibited at your gallery?

A. "Actually, we keep a list of everyone who has shown at the gallery on our website, that particular page is"

Q. How often do you have exhibits?

A. "We host a completely new exhibit every two months, within each month though we choose one artist to feature, so there is always something new in the Gallery for our guests to come back for."

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Q. Have you had any well-known artists exhibited in your gallery? If so, who? What was that experience like?

A. "I am constantly amazed by the quality of artists to be found in New Port Richey and the surrounding areas. It seems this is the nexus of the universe for Artists—everyone ends up here eventually!Most recently we had Gus Ocamposilva ( in the gallery with his Columbian inspired Expressionistic pieces.

We have many artists with Bachelors and Masters of Fine Art from some of the top Universities in the county and many who have studied and exhibited abroad. I think our most well-known artist, locally, would have to be Kevin Grass (

Also, we had the pleasure of hosting the work of Denny Karchner
( whose photo-realistic pencil art renderings of historic Western figures are held in the permanent collection of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody , Wyoming ."

Q. What is your gallery address? How can artists and art lovers contact you?

A. "The Gallery is located at 6231 Grand Boulevard , New Port Richey , FL 34652 . Artists can always email me a link to their on line portfolio at or they can mail a hard copy to the address I just mentioned. Art lovers can find us on the web, or they can come by any time Wednesday through Saturday, we’re open 12-8 p.m. We’re just a few doors down from the historic Richey Suncoast’s a big, two story, gold domed building, can’t miss it!"

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Q. Do you have a website for the gallery?

A. "Yes, I do. It’s I just recently renovated it and there are still a few things in the works, but there’s plenty of info about the Gallery, upcoming exhibits and our mission."

Q. In your opinion, what makes an art gallery a success?

A. "I would have to say a gallery that is successful finds a balance between art as a commodity and art as the heart and soul of a person personified in paint, plaster, metal or glass. Loosing site of that fact diminishes the value of the art to the buyers, in my opinion. I believe that if the artists are passionate about their work and the gallery curator and staff share that passion with prospective buyers, the buyers will react to that and want to bring that enthusiasm into their homes. The end goal is always to sell the artwork, but it doesn’t have to become a lifeless article of trade in order to do that. It benefits the artists and the community much more to build and encourage appreciation for the creative process—it ads value to the artwork and that’s good for everyone."

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hoorah! too all gallery owners taking a chance on artists and helping to promote the arts in general!