If one wishes to buy art, locally owned and operated venues such as Auburnart.com and The Villager are the places to go.
Frank and Ingrid Brown, Auburn alumni, own both stores.
“Frank grew up in Auburn, and his mother actually owned The Villager,” said Jessie King, marketing director. “The Villager was a custom frame shop for about 32 years, and then Frank and Ingrid decided to move back to Auburn, and they purchased The Villager from Frank's mother.”
At that time, the Browns decided to expand The Villager from a custom frame shop into a gallery of American craft as well, King said.
Last year, the framing portion of the business was sold, but custom framing is still available to customers who buy art from The Villager, King said.
Being a gallery of American craft means that The Villager not only sells paintings, but other types of art as well.
The Villager offers handcrafted jewelry from artists such as Anna Balkan, a native Russian who came to the United States with no English vocabulary and $100. Local artists who only sell their art at The Villager are also featured in the gallery, King said.
“We love the fact that people appreciate handcrafted items,” King said. “Our owner Ingrid has exquisite taste, and so she and our gallery manager seek out so many artists that do unique things. Many of our artists recycle elements of all kinds of things into their artwork.”
The Villager has a Web site featuring several different views of each piece of art, information about the artists and other features.
“So many of our customers love the fact that we're now online,” King said. “I love the way our Web site actually represents our pieces.”
Although the art in Auburnart.com is generally Auburn-inspired, everything is still handcrafted, and all of the paintings hanging in the gallery are hand framed at The Villager, King said.
The gallery started online eight years ago, and the Browns opened the physical store next to Toomer's Drugstore three years ago.
Auburn merchandise, such as hand-blown orange and blue champagne flutes, a unique line of Auburn-scented candles and hand decorated orange and blue sugar cookies by Chrissie Schubert, daughter of the famous Sister Schubert, can be found at Auburnart.com.
If people want to be inspired to create their own art, The Layman Group on Gay Street above Behind the Glass seeks to assist people in nurturing their artistic abilities.
“A very important part of what The Layman Group does is to really make it a point to express that when we say the word ‘art,’ we are not specifically talking about physical, tangible art that we can hang on the wall,” said Doc Waller, executive artistic director and founder of The Layman Group. “Here in our office we've got a lot of good art that you can hang on the wall, but when we look at that we're talking about an overall aesthetic. It's about the relationship between artists and the community, artists and themselves and the benefit of artistic thought process.”
Although the art in The Layman Group's office, or “main space” as Waller refers to it, is not for sale, he said The Layman Group promotes the artists.
“All of the artists here actually made these permanent installations for our open house,” Waller said. “If someone were to come in and say, 'I want to buy this piece,' I would definitely contact the artist, because that's what we're all about, is offering artists professional opportunities, and sometimes those opportunities mean being compensated for your work.”
The Layman Group provides workshops for artist development.
“In May, we're doing a workshop called ‘Right my Left Brain,’ and it's basically showing people the benefit of creative thinking,” Waller said.
Ardistry, on College Street above Moe's, is a hair salon with an artistic twist.
Sierra Farr, stylist, said the salon features a different artist's work each month.
Farr said the founder of Ardistry, Ami Ard, had the idea to have monthly art shows to create a community feeling around the salon.