Arts Alive - April 2019
- Story by Dena Temple
While the arts are a cornerstone of the Bay Saint Louis community, there are just a handful of spaces where contemporary artists can exhibit their creations.
Now there is another permanent gallery, on the second floor within the Shops of Century Hall: Gallery Edge.
The building that houses the Shops of Century Hall has a colorful history. The structure was built in 1909 as the meeting house for the Woodmen of the World, a “Benevolent Secret Beneficiary Fraternity.” Over the course of more than a century, the “WOW Building,” as it was nicknamed, housed boxing matches, receptions, and even served as the headquarters for the Sea Coast Echo newspaper at one time.
This Arts Alive column
is sponsored by
Click here and scroll down for archived Arts Alive stories.
The Century Hall building is a formidable yet inviting structure. A wide porch and balcony grace the façade, beckoning visitors to explore the eclectic shops inside. As you cross the threshold into the vestibule, the scale of the building is evident: sturdy, hand-hewn beams crisscross above and around you, and the comforting aroma of aged timbers beckons you to enter – and explore.
Once inside, decisions must be made immediately: Do you follow a short flight of stairs that lead up, or the stairs that lead down to the lower level? Both levels feature tasteful antiques, original art and home décor items, but a glance upstairs reveals an austere white room: Gallery Edge at Century Hall. We ascend the stairs, anticipating what’s in store.
Gallery Edge started as a collective of ten artists. Spearheaded by Bay St. Louis artist Kerr Grabowski, the space was converted into a gallery. The collective disbanded a year later, but Susan Peterson, manager of the Shops of Century Hall, didn’t want the space to revert back to retail.
“Susan wanted to make sure the space remained an art gallery,” explains Stacey Johnson, an artist from Biloxi whose ceramic art is featured in the gallery. “She has given it the time and energy it deserves, and thanks to her, local artists have a beautiful venue to display their work.”
Susan Peterson continued, “We wanted to expand the opportunities in the area for contemporary artists. Bay Saint Louis has a thriving art community, and we wanted Gallery Edge to play an important role in that.”
Gallery Edge will be open late on the third Friday of each month for special exhibits highlighting the work of one featured artist. These showcases allow the artists to display a broader representation of their work rather than just a few key pieces.
“It also gives the artists a chance to talk about their work and make that human connection,” added Peterson.
Susan revealed another surprise at the Shops of Century Hall: a third level of retail shops is preparing to open soon. This bright, newly renovated space features walls adorned with elegant reclaimed Victorian-era tin (from the building’s original ceilings). It’s a fitting backdrop for the antiques, collectibles and décor items on display within.
There is little question, however, that Gallery Edge is Peterson’s passion.
“When someone walks into the gallery for the first time and makes an emotional connection with one of the pieces, I know we made the right decision in keeping this a gallery space,” she says. “I’m excited to be here every day. Not many people can say that about where they work.”
- Delightfully whimsical screened fabrics by Kerr Grabowski
- Imaginative cypress sculptures by Alexander Brown
- Thoughtful, sensitive portraits by JJ Foley
- Contemporary paintings inspired by music from Liz Schafer
- Art in handmade paper and pastels by Joey Rice
- Figural ceramic sculptures from Stacey Johnson
- “Found object” sculpture by Vicki Niolet
- Striking surrealistic landscapes by Bill Nelson
- Emotional landscape watercolors by Marian Knobbe-Scott
- Smart and surreal mixed media works by Bill Myers
- Classic black-and-white Raku pottery by Dale Simmons
- Figural line drawings and paintings by Sandra Epton
- Dramatic, large-scale wheel-thrown stoneware by Craig McMillin
- Whimsical pottery and ceramics by Pat Gavin
- Acrylics on canvas by Eileen Morrison
- Hand-blown glass by artist Solange Ledwith
The Shops of Century Hall
112 S. Second St.
Bay St. Louis, MS 39520
Hours: 10-5 Tuesday-Saturday, 11-3 Sunday