Gallery 1930 has a modern, serene, spa-like atmosphere. It’s hard to believe the space was once home to a gas station. Behind the stone and glass facade, the works of owner/artist Meredith Keith, Rebecca Tully Fulmer, Katie Jane Labauve and Marcia Unger adorn the walls, while furniture designs by Lucy Smith occupy the space. The gallery gets it’s name from its street address on Cahaba Road in English Village and is a family owned enterprise. Laura Vogtle and her sister, artist Meredith Keith, opened the gallery along with their mother, Kathryn Keith in the fall of 2011.
SB: When and what made you decide to open Gallery 1930? Can you share the back story from inception to fruition?
Laura: For years Meredith exhibited in various galleries around the southeast. We had always admired the clean, contemporary space where the gallery resides and had the opportunity to lease the building for a month to host a holiday art show two years ago December. It was a huge success and tremendous fun, so the decision was based on the space. Meredith wanted the creative freedom that owning her own gallery would allow but only if she could have this location. Laura and Kathryn had the marketing and business background from owning Laura Kathryn Inc. in Crestline, and loved the idea of creating a venue for Meredith’s art that would encourage and support the community and the arts.
SB: What’s it like working with your mother and sister? Any challenges?
Laura: It is great working with family….we all have the same goals! We all have different qualities and it is so nice to have each other.
Meredith: Pretty wonderful, as they are well aware of my grumpy, do-not-disturb moods. As a team, our strengths and weaknesses seem to balance each other out nicely.
SB: Describe the art community in Birmingham…
Laura: The art community in Birmingham is flourishing. Birmingham is teaming with promising young artists, as well as accomplished, notable artists. We are lucky to be home to two preeminent art programs: The Birmingham Museum of Art and The Alabama School of Fine Arts. Along with other organizations, they have an enormous impact on promoting the arts in our city.
Meredith: Wasn’t aware of a community, just people who love art and love the way it feels in their home…or motivates them at work.
SB: What advice can you give first time art buyers?
Laura: Buy what you are drawn to, what you like. Art is personal and speaks to each person differently, so buy something you love.
Meredith: Go with your gut. Sometimes the input of someone you trust is helpful, if you’re teetering…
Laura: Buy what you love!! So many people come back to get the painting they saw a month ago and it is gone….go with your gut.
SB: What’s the biggest mistakes buyers make?
Meredith: (Promise I’m not just saying this.) Just an observation over my years of doing this, but more people have said to me, ” I should have bought this back when…” or “I wish I’d bought this particular piece from 5 years ago…” Sometimes spontaneity, when mixed with wisdom, is a good thing.
SB: What should one look for when buying art?
Laura: Keep the space in mind but don’t buy art to match the room or space. When you look at a piece, how does it make you feel? Is there a piece that stays on your mind after a few days?
Meredith: The piece usually finds you.
SB: So Meredith, give us a little bio/background on you and your art…
Meredith: I guess I learned about applying paint to a surface mostly by trial and error, and just by doing it over and over. and over. I also love to study our artist forefathers (fore-mothers??) and look at the risks they took, rejection, humiliation, poverty… breaking all kinds of boundaries allowing us to have such freedom in art today!
SB: Any local artists you admire?
Meredith: The local artists whom I admire the most are all of my English teachers from elementary school to high school (Go Mtn. Brook!). Teaching is an art, and studying literature and bringing thoughts and words to life is art in its highest form. (Totally corny–don’t care!)
SB: Any trends you are seeing in the art world?
Meredith: I love watching the cycles– same cycles, different year. Opulence — sparse/minimalistic — color overdose — black and white — pastels — metallics… I LOVE exploring new & different looks, but also love traditional & timeless looks. There is room enough for both!
SB: Did you have a mentor as a young artist?
Meredith: I worked with a fellow named Todd Curran and had the opportunity to do pretty much anything that involved paint inside a house (i. e. paint finishes, murals, ceilings, floors, lampshades, barstools, furniture, distressing metalwork, cement…) He was so wonderful with people, and I learned not to fear paint and not to be intimidated by large-scale work.
Gallery Manager, Amanda Morrisette joins us for the rest of our chat.
SB: What do you love most about Birmingham?
Amanda: Birmingham has access to everything without being too big. It has great concerts, galleries, shopping and dining. But maybe my favorite thing is the landscape and the change of seasons. Birmingham is a beautiful city.
Laura: I love Birmingham because there are so many generous, charitable people who live here. What a great place to raise a family!!!
Meredith: Family close by, having great friends that I’ve known for 20-plus years!!
SB: Favorite music groups/songs?
Amanda: This is hard. Way too many. Love Cake, Zac Brown Band, Counting Crows…
Meredith: I’ll just stick to this week’s downloads: Pitbull, Christina Perri, Kiss, and George Jones (rocking chair), oh, and a Billy Joel song.
SB: What book are you currently reading/did you last read?
Amanda: Save Me From Myself by Brian “Head” Welch
Laura: I just started a book called Glory Invasion by David Herzog.
Meredith: I guess right now I am doing more listening, like teaching tapes/downloads, and article-reading on the computer. A recent obsession was the Vietnam War, the individual battles, the veterans and their experiences and how they’re affected today. Also recently got side-tracked with Al Capone & his contemporaries… (random)
SB: Have a favorite dinner spot?
Amanda: Outside at Vino or GianMarco’s, both for the atmosphere.
Meredith: Love the patio at Vino, also love Hot & Hot.
SB: Do you have any quirks or irrational fears?
Amanda: Don’t think so.
Meredith: I loathe wasting money– like on shoes, or shampoo… You think they’re going to be great, and it just doesn’t work out… blisters or pinching, or stinkier than you initially thought. Oh, and I strongly dislike reality t.v.
Thanks for sharing with us! Visit Gallery 1930 Tuesday – Friday 11 – 5, and by appointment anytime to check out all the fabulous works of art on display. For more information, to schedule an appointment or rent out the gallery for your event contact the gallery at [email protected].
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