By J.R. Williams -- firstname.lastname@example.org
STRASBURG -- Soon, the first floor of Marcy McCann's home will be crowded with as much local artwork as she can find.
She's painted the walls a pale cream in anticipation and carefully studied each small room for its potential. When she's ready, everyone's invited.
Renovations are underway at 234 W. King St., where a group of local artists is planning an upstart cooperative art gallery. They're calling it King Street Art Works.
McCann lives on the second floor of the building and uses a street-level room as headquarters for her Internet printing business, ltdprints.com. Armed with a large-format printer and a couple of Macintosh computers, she prints custom posters and wall murals to ship worldwide.
But the building's vacant retail space -- prime territory on a heavily traveled block of King Street -- has been crying for a purpose, she said.
After putting the word out, she heard back from about 10 artists who expressed interest in the new gallery, and she's looking for more.
"I just felt like Strasburg was missing the opportunity to showcase these artists," McCann said. "Right now we want to reach out and let them know we want them to participate. We're willing to work with them to get started."
Instead of taking work to Middleburg or elsewhere, "let's showcase them right here," she said, so "people coming through the Shenandoah Valley have the opportunity to purchase great art."
Artists would rent as much wall space as they need at the gallery and pay a small commission when a piece is sold. The building seems suited for the purpose: Art displayed in several intimate rooms will command a customer's attention.
There's even an in-between space by the front door that McCann envisions as home to someone who's never sold anything before.
The gallery could open as soon as next month, she said. Sculpture, ceramics, jewelry also will be welcomed. There are plans to use a foyer area to feature an artist each month and bring in the occasional music act.
She said she hopes the proximity to Cristina's Cafe, a popular neighbor that also displays local artists, will help drive traffic between the two businesses.
"Our thinking is, there's a constant flow," she said.
Linda L. Anderson, who lives nearby, already has work on the walls. Four pieces from a collection of 13 titled "Perceiving Earth: New Views of the Landscape" are prominently displayed in a front room.
The striking acrylics are nearly hypnotic. Their scenes, tangled in layer and texture, seem to reach beyond the canvas.
Anderson has been working closely with McCann to build a core group of artists that will jury the work to be displayed.
"I wanted to be a part of a small community," said Anderson, who moved from Utah in October, and Strasburg is "exactly what I wanted to find. I'm just thrilled to be here."
King Street Art Works represents her first jump to display work locally.
"Strasburg does not have a professional gallery, and this is the goal," she said. "We want to maintain a very high level of quality. There's some great talent here, and we want people to think of it that way."
With time, "It kind of becomes a cultural hub for the community and a draw for tourists," she said.
Her four pieces on display now range in price from $890 to $2090.
It's a hope to make space affordable for artists to rent, possibly just $25 per space, per month. An application fee may be as little as $10, Anderson said.
"The percentage the gallery is taking is very low," Anderson said. "That's very good for artists. It is definitely a lot more affordable."
Ann Harrison, a 40-year artist based in Front Royal, is among those to express interest in displaying their work. The watercolor instructor has sold prints from Italy to New York, and has hung pieces locally at Bygones in Strasburg, Sun Studio in Front Royal and for the Blue Ridge Arts Council.
When she was approached about the new gallery, "I said, 'Why not?'" Anderson said. "There is no co-op in the area. Anything helps the community grow. You have to advertise and produce good work. It could be wonderful."
Interested artists are invited to an information session planned for 2 p.m. Sunday at King Street Art Works, 234 W. King St., Strasburg. For more information, contact Marcy McCann at 465-3878.