The longest running art space along Roosevelt Row is about to take on a whole new identity.Gallery Celtica
, the eclectic spot that's been home to funky works and the equally funky artistIra L. Hayden
for almost 30 years, is transforming into
In addition to the new name, Hayden and his wife Patricia are giving the decor a makeover, creating more space for patrons, adjusting the style of art that will be featured, and - most of all - adding a bar in the back that serves beer and wine. They hope to unveil the new look and name by mid-September.
This isn't the first time that Ira has changed things up at the space, which is located in the same building as Five15 Gallery and has served as a studio and gallery in various capacities since 1983 (long before there ever was a First Friday).
It was originally known as Art Transfer before later becoming the IL Hayden Art & Design Studio. For the last decade, however, it's been known as Gallery Celtica (owing to Ira's Irish heritage) and offered a curious mishmash of works that included paper mache biplanes and medieval-themed sculptures to gnome dolls and outsider art.
"I was one of the first artists to ever open a studio on Roosevlt, and I've been down here for going on three decades," Ira says. "And it's evolved, little by little, over the years."
As reported on our sister blog Chow Bella, the space's latest evolution into a combination gallery/beer and wine parlor is due to a desire to provide an alternative for drinkers when The Lost Leaf is crammed, to create new revenue, and to ultimately sell more art.
"We'll be serving beer and wine, but the art will always be a major part of things," Ira says. "I'm a working artist myself, and the economy's still down so people aren't buying as much art as [they] once did. So we also got to looking at the fact, maybe if people got to stand their longer with a drink in hand and take a little longer to look at things, maybe they'll be more inclined to buy something." (More info on the beer and wine aspect of the new-and-improved gallery can be found over on Chow Bella.)
They also would like to create more of a convivial and communal atmosphere, Patricia Hayden says, which is why they will begin featuring more live entertainment. As such, they're freeing up more space inside.
"We used to bring in musicians and poetry people years ago for First Friday and we thought, lets just continue this but make it more open in here so people don't feel so claustrophobic in rooms," she says. "We're making the place much more open and communal versus just a gallery where you stand there and look at the art on the wall. In essence, it's more making it more user-friendly to visitors."
Ira says there also be a partial shift in the style and amount of art that's featured.
"I'm looking to have a much cleaner-looking gallery," he says. "Rather than have 50 paintings on the wall, I'd rather see one or two large pictures and not have a lot of things scattered around."
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While they will still have a "varied amount of artists showing their work here," he adds that there will be more abstract material on display.
Ira states that Gallery Celtica will remain open and "have art on the walls" throughout its transition period as changes unfold.
"We'll be telling people that we're going to be under construction, things are in the works, and that something good is going to come here," he says.