ARROW ROCK — Area artists have a new venue to show and sell their work with the opening of the Missouri Folk Art Shop and Gallery in Arrow Rock.
The shop, a 501(c)3 organization, opened Aug. 1 and is operated by Mindy Smith and Mary Barile. On Saturday, the women hosted an open house encouraging visitors to greet artists and view a wide assortment of artisan wares.
“Actually, we had been wanting to do this for a long time and then we found ourselves connected to the Friends of Arrow Rock,” Smith said. “So, that really brought it alive for me. I love doing something in partnership with them.”
Smith said artists who consign at the gallery receive 80% of the sales from their items with 20% being donated to the Friends of Arrow Rock.
The shop and gallery are now housed in the historical Miller-Bradford House on Main Street. Smith said opening the shop in the home was a perfect fit because the Friends of Arrow Rock wanted to “breathe new life” into the home.
“What we want to do is build a business for artisans, because it’s very hard to sell your work and really profit from it,” she said. “So, we wanted to have a profitable situation for them. We wanted to provide some mentorship and perhaps some apprenticeship opportunities.
“But you have to have money to operate your business,” she continued. “So, the other thing we’re going to do is an educational component. We’re going to do classes and workshops and demonstrations.”
The shop plans to provide two- and three-day workshops, trunk shows and presentations. The shop represents around 20 artisans and is looking for more.
“Our definition of folk art is whatever we have in here has to be handmade by that person,” she said.
They accept all fine art originals such as photography, paintings and ceramics, plus handmade artisan products such as quilts, leather products, rug hooking, jewelry and fiber art.
“The other thing is we do consignment, but we are also a gallery,” Smith said. “So, if they just want to show their work and not sell it, we have a gallery as well.”
Shop board treasurer James Henderson said he believes the shop is “phenomenal.”
“When we look at Arrow Rock when you tour the other shops, we are doing things here that nobody else is doing,” he noted. “We are presenting a great opportunity for local artists to be able to bring their work to the forefront of the community here, as well as other communities. Kansas City folks come in, we get a draw from St. Louis, Columbia, Springfield.
“It’s an avenue that’s close for local artists and exposure they might not have otherwise,” he added.
The shop’s event planner Donna Puleo said she thinks the business is “fascinating.”
“This has been Mindy’s dream for many, many years,” she said. “When you have a dream and then all of a sudden it happens, it’s almost magical. So, I am very happy for her and Mary Barile. I think the artisans, to give them a chance to show their work is just fabulous. Because there is such a different variety.”
One of the shop’s artisans is leather craftsman Dale Smith, of Columbia, who was demonstrating his work Saturday at the open house.
Dale Smith’s day job is at the University of Missouri-Columbia where he works editing the alumni magazine, Mizzou. He began working with leather five years ago and now creates items from cowhide, alligator, ostrich, snake, water monitor, goat and other hides.
“I just remembered how much I loved leather …” he said. “I just sort of fell in love with that material again … and started working with leather.”