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By Tyler Flynn
A new fines arts center is set to bring added culture and creativity to the Bedford area.
Gallery 2000, located at 318 W. Washington St., is an innovative arts hub that opened this month, allowing local artisans to display their craftsmanship. Run by director Diane Gallant, the gallery, a non-profit venture, is intended to be “an incubator for the Bedford art community.”
Gallant, who grew up in Lynchburg and is a retired registered nurse, has been involved with art for over 11 years — she has hosted six art shows, four national and two local, and has opened two galleries; Gallery 2000 is her latest.
Gallant was originally inspired by art as a young child, first in elementary school drawing with crayons, and later when she received a paint-by-the-numbers kit for Christmas. She later became more involved in the fine arts during college, participating in classes such as pottery and theatre. Her favorite aspect of the field is the ability to be innovative and to “think outside the box.”
“Artists cut out a piece of themselves and put it on the canvas — they make themselves vulnerable,” Gallant said.
She now works on painting, sculpting and publishing in her spare time, but said that her work promoting Gallery 2000, specifically offering new opportunities to local artists, is the highlight of her endeavors.
“My responsibility [as director of Gallery 2000] is to get to know each artist individually and find out what they want me to share about themselves and their work. Encouragement is my gift,” Gallant said.
Gallant first discovered Gallery 2000’s location in 2009; the building had been vacant for three years, and had previously been occupied by a dance studio and a chiropractor’s office. It has since been refurbished into a multi-room display facility.
Gallery 2000 features a wide array of exhibitions. In addition to several types of paintings, such as oils, landscapes and portraiture, other pieces include woodworking, ethnic jewelry, silk embroidery, stained glass, quilting and a historical library. Ten artists currently have their works on display, with plans for more to be added in the future. Like the diversity of the exhibits, the contributors to the gallery also boast distinct backgrounds, as they range in age from 20 to 90 years old, and most of them work on their art as a part time hobby, according to Gallant.
“Art is the person — their [true] vocation is actually their avocation,” Gallant said.
Gallant’s hard work has fostered positive feedback from the gallery’s contributors.
“Diane is a very giving person. She’s the [loving] whip — the one who brings us [artists] together and keeps us invested in our work,” said Klynn Gear, who has been friends with Gallant for 10 years. Gear is a member of the Seneca tribe and uses her Native American ancestry as inspiration for her pieces. She designed the logo for the Native American center at Lynchburg’s Amazement Square and has illustrated five children’s books.
According to Gallant, artists like Gear are the type of people she wants to bring to Gallery 2000 — individuals who offer new and unique perspectives with their work.
“Gallery 2000’s main focus is diversity — we’re bringing a different angle, a fresh view to Bedford,” Gallant said.
In an effort to reach out to Bedford residents, Gallant, is also hosting several June events, including music, poetry readings, lectures, auctions and storytelling. She hopes the events will engender greater art appreciation and provide encouragement to aspiring artists.
“The greatest privilege [of working at Gallery 2000] is being part of a community,” Gallant said, smiling.
For more information about Gallery 2000 and a list of upcoming events, call (434)755-1272.