Erwin leaders and friends of artists Jan and Vince Bowden gathered at the new metal and glass fusing art gallery at 100 Union St. Tuesday morning to cut a ribbon and thank the Bowdens for what they believe will be a cultural shot in the arm for a budding downtown art district.
Erwin Mayor Doris Hensley told the couple, “You’re the starters. Others will follow you here. This is is going to mushroom. So, we thank you for what you have brought to our town. Welcome to the family.”
Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Amanda Delp and Tyler Engle, director of the Joint Economic Development Board of Unicoi County, which partnered with Erwin Utilities to provide the nine-week small business training course with a pitch contest for start-up money that helped the Bowden’s rehab their building, echoed Hensley’s sentiments.
Jan Bowden, who with her husband will be offering classes and workshops in the fused glass and metal working arts they have made their living at for the past 22 years, responded, “Now all we need are more artists.”
In the meantime, the gallery will carry their metal sculptures and fused glass creations as well as works of other artists from across the country.
The gallery’s hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Fridays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and “by chance or appointment” Monday and Tuesday. Planned events will be held at the gallery on with the first Friday every month, possibly in partnership with the galley’s across-the-street neighbor, Union Street Tap Room.
Engle said the JEDB was glad to be a part of the CO.STARTERS training and pitch competition in which the Bowdens’ business plan tied for a first place cash award with downtown Erwin’s new ice cream shop, What’s the Scoop.
Jan Bowden said the cash prize came in handy as she and Vince rehabbed the building they bought to move their Bowden’s Bells and Garden Art Gallery here from Big Prairie, Ohio.
A former tax auditor and no stranger to business, Jan Bowden said the CO.STARTERS training was also very helpful and filled her in a couple of things that will help the gallery.
The first place CO.STARTERS prize also included one year of free high-speed internet service for the gallery compliments of Erwin Fiber.
More information about the gallery and its upcoming classes in plasma cutting, welding and glass fusing may be obtained by contacting the Bowdens at 740-398-0855.
Email Sue Guinn Legg at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.