Arts & Culture

Fresh Gallery's New Space in Downtown Springfield

Fresh Gallery’s new downtown Springfield location is a work of art in and of itself, thanks to an outpouring of support from friends, family and community members.

By Krysten Muench

Mar 2021

Fresh Gallery artists in downtown Springfield MO
Photo by Brandon AlmsSeated in the center (L to R) are Linda Kirchner, Fresh Gallery Assistant Coordinator; Farley Lewis, Fresh Gallery Coordinator and Avery Parish, Sprinfield Regional Arts Council Corporate Art Coordinator. They are surrounded by other Fresh Gallery artists. Purchase Photo

Members of the artist cooperative Fresh Gallery (401 North Boonville Avenue, Springfield, 417-862-9300, Tues.–Sat., 11 a.m.–5 p.m.) are showing their work in a brand new space that is bright, open and about three times the size of the original location. The gallery operates under the guidance of the Springfield Regional Arts Council (SRAC) by a membership of juried artists. It launched in 2009 thanks to artist Jeannie Morris and Sandra Smith, the head of the SRAC at the time.

In early 2020, the building that housed the original location sold and the group decided to move, but the new space required extensive renovations. “It was a challenging time as a gallery,” says Farley Lewis, artist and member of the Fresh Gallery executive team. “People wondered if we were going to make it.”

Armed with only a $14,000 budget, gallery and community members got to work on renovations or offered donations. “It was fun to dream together, and then to see it come true,” Lewis says.

The new space allows the artists to think differently about how they showcase their work. Linda Kirchner, artist and financial coordinator on the Fresh Gallery executive team, found that 33% of their sales come from products under $75, which led her to the idea of creating a dedicated gift shop. “The clutter that we had had at the old gallery was distracting and [we thought] if we could get all of those items centrally located in a gift shop, people could easily peruse that area and leave the rest of the gallery looking more professional and pristine,” Kirchner says.

Fresh Gallery has long been a must-stop for First Friday Art Walk. “All artists are encouraged (in non-pandemic times) to come because people want to connect a face with the art and the stories behind the pieces,” says Ann Marie Rausch, a Fresh Gallery artist and member of the executive team.

With a fresh new look and big dreams, Fresh Gallery is looking forward to promoting local arts more than ever. “I have a vision that someday on our south wall, it’s going to say ‘Downtown Art District’ or ‘Springfield Art District,’” Lewis says. “This is really kind of a new center for the arts in our community. We’re still dreaming.”

“I think people are getting back to wanting something original on their walls. To find something original that somebody really poured their heart into, I think that’s valuable to people now.”
— Farley Lewis, Fresh Gallery artist
Gift shop at Fresh Gallery Springfield MO
Photos by Brandon AlmsThe new Fresh Gallery features a new gift shop where visitors can peruse a range of handmade items. Purchase Photo
Handblown glass by Cheryl Vowels at Fresh Gallery Springfield MO
Photos by Brandon AlmsHandblown glass by Cheryl Vowels. Purchase Photo
Paintings by Mike Myers at Fresh Gallery Springfield MO
Photos by Brandon AlmsPaintings by Mike Myers. Purchase Photo
Paintings by Leigh Ann Thomas at Fresh Gallery Springfield MO
Photos by Brandon AlmsPaintings by Leigh Ann Thomas. Purchase Photo
Fresh Gallery Springfield MO
Photos by Brandon AlmsThe new Fresh Gallery space is about three times larger than the original location, allowing each artist's work ample space for displaying. Purchase Photo
Fresh Gallery Springfield MO
Photos by Brandon AlmsThe size of the new Fresh Gallery space also allows them to invite other guest artists in the community to show their work. Purchase Photo
Fresh Gallery Springfield MO
Photos by Brandon AlmsThe front entry often showcases some of the gallery's largest works. Purchase Photo
Fresh Gallery downtown Springfield, MO
Photos by Brandon AlmsVisit Fresh Gallery in downtown Springfield. Open Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. And be sure to stop by during First Friday Artwalk. Purchase Photo

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