If, as contemporary artist Mirka Mora once said, art is the child of imagination, then Gallery Janjobe is a playground.
Located in the Mellwood Arts Center, it opened in September 2006, founded by six artists who recognized the center’s value as an artist colony.
All were members of the Louisville Artisans Guild, which was among the center’s earliest tenants. Founded in 1956, LAG is Kentucky’s oldest artist guild.
Two of the gallery’s original owners have moved on, and another pair has taken their place. Today’s owner-artists, all of whom are LAG members, have varied interests and skills: Joy Lait flameworks with glass beads; Ann Klem makes glass photo frames, bowls and trays; Sharon Major creates jewelry inspired by nature; Janet Bailey Burch makes wooden wall sculptures of pets and other animals; Jana John creates clay masks of cats and women; and Patricia Brock photographs the wonders of the natural world.
“We were all on the same page at the beginning, and it’s true now, too,” Joy said. “We knew that we wanted a gallery in which we could display our work. We all bring different things to the table, and are doing it for the beauty of it.”
Gallery Janjobe, whose name is a blend of the original owners’ names, currently represents more than 60 artists throughout Kentucky, plus several who live elsewhere.
“One way we find artists is by going to art shows. We like to select work by artists who aren’t widely represented in this area. And we’re always looking for art that has attitude,” Patricia said. “Everything here was made by individuals and is one-of-a-kind—no large companies and nothing mass-produced.”
Michelle Weston, based in Berea, swirls glass into $20 intriguing pen holders; and in Versailles, Mary Lamb Nehring makes soft socks for $13 out of 94 percent bamboo—yes, real bamboo. Bardstown’s Real Soap Co. produces bars in scents such as cinnamon, honeysuckle and holiday gumdrop for $5. Roxy Lentz makes jewelry out of “repurposed” metals such as copper, and Louisville’s Ben Lang fashions glittering rings out of hard glass for $20.
For the holidays, Gallery Janjobe has decked out several Christmas trees with handmade ornaments, including colorful $5 horseheads by Karen Levy Brown, Janet Bailey Burch’s miniature stick-horses for $18, and Joy Lait’s $10 glass “squiggles,” which resemble jellyfish.
Some items are made by far away artists, such as the $27 large placemats by Kakadu Designs in Israel. Fashioned out of sustainable mahogany, they are painted with bold designs and sealed for easy cleaning.
“This gallery gives us a chance to show new work, and that’s something an artist doesn’t always get in someone else’s gallery,” Joy said. “As partners, we can bring in anything we want and show it to the others. If we all like it, we’ll put it on display. Each of us has an attitude, and every one of us loves being the boss.”
Gallery Janjobe, located in the Mellwood Arts Center, 1860 Mellwood Ave., is open this holiday season Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday noon to 4 p.m. It’s closed Mondays. For information, visit www.galleryjanjobe.com or phone 502.899.9293.
photos by MARY ALAN WOODWORD
Category: Business Profile