~story and photos by Paige Langenderfer
The Brown County Craft Gallery celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. In celebration, the Gallery will host an Open House on May 19 and 20 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. In addition to member artists being available to talk at the Gallery, a few artists will also host live demonstrations on the lawn in front of the Brown County Courthouse.
The Brown County Craft Gallery is a unique, cooperative gallery that features and sells the handcrafted work of more than 30 artists from Brown County and surrounding counties. A variety of art and craft categories are featured including weaving, knitting, pottery, jewelry, baskets, wall hangings, metalwork, original watercolors, and prints of Brown County scenes, photography, gourd creations, hand-cut puzzles, woodworking, handmade soap, and many others.
Member and guest artists are admitted to the gallery through a juried process. Members pay monthly dues, donate a percentage of all items sold, and work one or two days per month as a clerk in the store. Consigners pay a larger percentage for items sold, but do not clerk.
After four decades, the focus remains to provide a marketplace to encourage growth in fine craftsmanship while offering works of original design and excellent quality. The gallery continually seeks out new artists in an effort to keep the shop growing and fresh.
Stone carver Sidney Bolam is one of the newest member artists, joining just three years ago. Bolam said that the gallery is a vital part of the community.
“It’s a showcase of Brown County’s artist colony history,” she said. “When I moved to Brown County 11 years ago I was seeking a sense of community. I really didn’t have an art community. I feel very supported here, these people hold me up. And it’s also great to have a place to display my work.”
Bolam said she appreciates the camaraderie amongst the artists.
“I love getting to know the other artists and their stories. I love telling customers the background stories of the artists. It makes it so much more personal,” she said. “Once you learn the story of an artist, you want a souvenir of their life and work.”
Customers enjoy browsing the shelves, filled with thousands of unique pieces, Bolam said.
“Most people say it’s a relief to find a store where everything is not mass produced,” she said. “We’re so accustomed to mass production in our everyday lives that when we see something unique it really stands out.”
In the next 40 years, Bolam said the Gallery plans to do much of the same work it’s done for the past four decades.
“Our biggest strong point is that we are a consistent and dependable place to get local art,” she said.
The craft gallery is located at 58 E. Main Street in Nashville, next door to the Brown County Courthouse, and is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except major holidays. The gallery’s web site is <browncountycraftgallery.com> and the phone number is