Linda Walker, president of the Mathews Art Group, which established the gallery in 1991, said the "perfect storm" of a decline in sales due to a poor economy, dwindling participation by older artists, and increased operating costs has resulted in a financial reality that can’t be ignored.
"There’s a decline in membership, gallery sales, commissions on sales, wall rent … but the costs are still there," said Walker.
The corporation’s board discussed the problem from all angles and tried to figure out some way to continue to keep the gallery open, she said, but as the income declined and the costs increased, the stress mounted.
The board had discussed closing the gallery at other times over the years, said Walker, but then someone would step up and help out. The late Patty Zierow, who managed The Gallery for many years, wouldn’t take a pay check, or someone would contribute a service to help make ends meet.
But the reality is that most artists have to work another job to make a living, said MAG vice president Larry Ashe, and with the economy still in decline, people who once might have been able to pitch in are now having to spend more time working that other job, so they have less time to devote to their art and to The Gallery.