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The new Blue Heron Art Gallery in Milltown gives regional artists an outlet to display and sell their art. The gallery is operated by the Blue River Arts Association with administrative support from the Community Foundation of Crawford County. Photos by Lee Cable

Milltown gallery showcases regional artists

September 30, 2009
When people walk through the door of the recently opened Blue Heron Art Gallery in Milltown, the surprise shows on their faces immediately. This is not just a little place with a few pieces of art on the walls; this is a real art gallery.

The tastefully exhibited art — and the amount of it — doesn't allow the large room to overwhelm it. In fact, there's enough art, representing several mediums, to keep visitors occupied for an extended amount of time.

Last week, John Carman, a well-known Chicago area artist, opened a show at the gallery that will run through Oct. 25. Carman has art exhibited in galleries all over Illinois, including those in Aurora, Elmhurst and Downers Grove. His work also is displayed in the Elmhurst Art Museum.

The gallery supports all types of art, including mixed medium pieces.
"John Carman is a local person," Mary Jo Moss, gallery curator and artist, said. "He graduated from North Harrison High School several years ago and attended duPont Manual High School in Louisville. We're really proud to have some of his excellent pieces on display here."

Although Carman's work will be highlighted at the gallery for the next few weeks, regional artists have eye-catching works displayed there that are second to none. Local artists like Bernice Hoeferlin of Mifflin, Sue Chapman of Milltown and Jeff Drees of New Salisbury have several pieces exhibited along with Cortney Downey and Mike Hamby (acrylics), Mary Jo Moss (pastels), Nancy Zinner (oils) Lyn Humphries (wood), State Sen. Richard Young (oils), Sharon Roberts (jewelry) and Jerry Thomas (photography).

The Blue Heron Gallery opened July 10 in a second-floor center that used to house the Milltown Masonic Lodge. The building, owned by Tony Phillips, who runs his plumbing, heating and alternative energy business on the first floor, has been redesigned for the gallery upstairs and has plenty of space leftover for expansion.

"Tony has been a great help to us," Moss said. "He's made this space affordable to us. At some point, we'd like to be able to offer art classes and even studio space. Of course, we're open to ideas. And we'd also like to have schools bring their junior high and high school students here on field trips. We'd like to focus on education, and children's art is important to us."

The gallery was the brainchild of the Blue River Arts Association that is made up of artists from all over the region. They began by having meetings at the Blue River Café, across the street from the gallery.

"The Blue River Café held a fundraising dinner for us," Moss said. "Then, the members chipped in and we were able to pull it all together. We wanted to give the artists in this area a place, or an outlet, to display and sell their work. Southern Indiana has a lot of fine artists and, now, several of them are represented here. We'd like to have people bring in art from different mediums, and we'd like to have more 3-D and mixed medium art. We want all types of art to be represented here, but we don't do consignments. We want every artist to be a member of the Blue River Arts Association, and you have to be a member to display art here."

The Blue River Arts Association has two levels of membership. A person can be a display member who pays annual dues and can display and sell their art at the gallery. There is also an operating member option that allows an artist to display and sell their art but with lower dues and less commissions on art they sell. The operating members are required to work at the gallery two days a month.

"That's the option I chose," Jeff Drees, an operating member, said. "I really don't mind working in the gallery a couple of days a month, and I like meeting all the people who come in. I can get my work displayed at a reasonable cost and have an opportunity to sell some. It's a great idea. There's nothing like it in the area."

There is no admission charge to visit the gallery, but donations are gladly accepted. All of the art on display, including the jewelry, is for sale. There are also greeting cards representing the works of some members and other items for sale at the gallery.

The Blue Heron Gallery adds to the appeal the small town of Milltown has been building on for years. The excitement of river canoe trips offered at Cave Country Canoes, the food and live music at Blue River Café and, now, an upscale art gallery makes for a great day trip from Louisville, New Albany, Bloomington, Evansville and other regional towns and cities.

"We're open from April 1 to Dec. 1," Moss said. "Our hours are from 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday, noon to 8 p.m. on Saturday and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday."

For more information, call Moss at 738-6017 or e-mail her at mjmoss@whitecloudworkshop.com.

The Community Foundation of Crawford County is helping the gallery with administrative issues and obtaining nonprofit status. They also sponsored the gallery's signs.

The entrance to the gallery, at 129 W. Main St., is at the left rear of the building.

"Everyone is welcome here. You don't have to be knowledgeable about art to enjoy it," Moss said.

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    Gallery in Milltown
    October 03, 2009 | 08:24 AM

    Good job on bringing more art into the community! Due to this article i visited the gallery on Friday Night and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Beautiful artwork! Then of course i had to walk across the street and enjoy some great jazz/blues music and eat a wonderful dinner! Not a bad deal for a friday night close to home!

    B Scott
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    Art Gallery in Milltown
    October 05, 2009 | 02:14 PM

    I was really looking forward to seeing the gallery and drove from Bloomington to see it on Saturday. I arrived at 1:30 p.m. Can you imagine how disappointed I was to find it padlocked? Another couple was there, as well, and they drove from Georgetown. Having just read the article in The Clarion that week, I cannot imagine why the gallery was not open.

    B. Lee
Schuler Bauer
Barbara Shaw
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