By Cheryl Ryan
Walking past Gallery 24 Fine Art on University Ave in Los Gatos always lights me up. Some evenings I see entire families with their faces pressed against the window taking in the vibrant artwork of local artists hanging from the walls of this beautiful old building. Not to mention, my own excitement when walking through the gallery and discovering a new artist or piece of work for the first time.
Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Carol Waittes, who along with Bob Hunt, manages the business and accounting side of the gallery, leaving the artists to do what they do best. Through the arm of the Los Gatos Morning Rotary Club, generous rent pricing by the building owners and the artist members themselves Gallery 24 Fine Art is flourishing and continues to represent a long history of art in downtown Los Gatos.
Something for everyone
How is the gallery organized?
It is a membership-based gallery. The artists are juried by a steering committee made up of five artists and Carol. Once accepted artists pay membership dues and volunteer their time to hanging the art and take shifts working during operating hours. In addition to artist membership fees, a portion of each sale helps to sustain the gallery. Member artists are mainly from the south bay but reach as far as San Francisco and Santa Cruz
“We have 44 artists right now”, says Carol. “There are many different types of art and we are proud to say that from bronze to oil to acrylic we have something for everyone.”
“I was thrilled to be accepted into Gallery 24 Fine Art,” says artist Nancy Takaichi. “I wanted to have a local gallery presence and what could be better than to be in downtown Los Gatos? But what has proven most gratifying is that when a painting sells it benefits the community.” she says. “It’s yet another reason to paint, show and sell which makes me feel like a partner with the town”.
What is the history of Gallery 24 Fine Art?
The present location of Gallery 24 Fine Art has a rich history dating back to the ’60s and ’70s. From a single artist occupancy to a cooperative like today, art has remained a near-constant. Los Gatos Morning Rotary took over management in 2008 and at the same time launched Los Gatos Plein Air. Los Gatos Plein Air is a three-day event which sends painters fanning out to paint local scenes.
The artists bring their favorite pieces to Los Gatos Town Plaza to be judged and viewed. And the public and collectors get a chance to purchase their favorites. The end results are some beautiful paintings – often still wet – of local scenery and buildings. The money raised by the event goes back into supporting local art programs and Gallery 24.
David Stonesifer, a long-time Los Gatos resident and previous owner of the beloved Los Gatos Porch, recognizes the importance of retaining this property for the arts. A painter himself, David and his partner, Larry Avery, have sold much of the property associated with their previous business but keep the Templeton building to ensure that they can continue to offer an affordable rent so that the long history of this location as an art hub can continue to thrive.
What other art programs does the gallery participate in?
The Rotary offers funding and volunteer help for Art Now, an art exhibition by bay area high school students, held at the NUMU (New Museum Los Gatos) each year. We also help Lighting For Literacy which is a non-profit that engages local youth in building and improving sustainable, renewable lighting for communities around the world.
What is the gallery’s greatest achievement?
“That we’re still open,” says Carol. As so many brick-and-mortars have taken a beating, art is something that needs to be seen live and in person. Even after shutting down for four months last year, it seems that people want art more than ever. “Looking at the same empty walls for a year has motivated people to appreciate finding something they love for those places in their home”.
What’s next for the gallery?
Our main event of the year is on the first Thursday before Thanksgiving. We have a huge Christmas party with art and a tree. Last year we couldn’t do it but we’re hoping to make it happen this season, even if it looks a bit different. We’re especially motivated this year since many of our fundraising events were cancelled. So please check our website for upcoming details or just stop the gallery as you begin to think about your holiday shopping.
In addition to Gallery 24 Fine Art, there is an art framer downstairs and the Whitney Modern gallery on the second floor mezzanine above Gallery 24 which showcases thought provoking collectible works of art from internationally recognized, mid-career and emerging contemporary fine artists.
There really is something for everyone. From first time art shoppers to seasoned art collectors the Templeton building at 24 N Santa Cruz Ave in Los Gatos continues its history of providing artists a place to showcase their work. And gives patrons a place to find that perfect piece of art for their home or as a gift.
The new hours are Wednesday – Sunday from 11:30 – 5:30.