Oceanside Mall donates space to artists
By Kyle Stucker
Hampton Union, July 11, 2014
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
Hampton artists cut the ceremonial ribbon at the newly opened Hampton
Arts Network Summer Art Show, located at 367 Ocean Boulevard in the
Oceanside Mall on Hampton Beach. From left are Skip Windemiller, Don
Jenkins, Jan Meades, Linda Gebhart, Peg Duffin, Ann Justin and John Gebhart.
[Rich Beauchesne photo]
HAMPTON — Opening a gallery and studio where local artists could display their work as well as use Hampton Beach as inspiration in their mediums has been a dream of Linda Gebhart's for years, and it'll finally come true tonight.
The Hampton Arts Network will open its first artist gallery and shop in the Oceanside Mall at 367 Ocean Blvd., occupying the former home of Barrymore Designs. Gebhart, the president of HAN, said her nonprofit group jumped at the opportunity to open in the space after Oceanside owner Duane "Skip" Windemiller offered it free of charge for the summer.
"This was like a golden gift presented to us," said Gebhart. "There was no way we were going to say, 'No,' and let this opportunity slip through our fingers. This is way beyond being generous."
HAN will celebrate the opening of the gallery with a public reception from 5 to 8 p.m. tonight.
The gallery represents Hampton's first-ever shop dedicated solely to displaying and supporting the local arts community, which is why Gebhart said she was "very excited."
Many Hampton businesses display locals artists' works, although the town is the only vibrant artist community on the Seacoast without a true gallery — until now.
Windemiller, who has owned and operated the adjacent D.W.'s Oceanside Inn with his wife for decades, said this was the very reason he offered the storefront to HAN when Barrymore's owners retired last year.
"I just think it's a really nice type of thing that every area should have," said Windemiller. "If you go to (Cape Cod) or the islands, you see that. We're lacking that at Hampton Beach. It also gives all the tourists and visitors something a little different to do and to see.
"I'm hoping this can be the start of something, and luckily I'm in the position now after being here over 40 years that I'm able to do this."
Gebhart said the gallery's artists will help provide the staffing required to operate it. The initial plan is for the gallery to be open this summer from 2 to 8 p.m. every Tuesday to Sunday through Labor Day weekend, although Gebhart said the gallery's success could lead HAN to open a permanent studio.
Hampton Beach painter Linda Gebhart hangs some of her watercolors at the newly opened Hampton Arts Network Summer Art Show at the Oceanside Mall on Hampton Beach.
"I see this as an experiment," said Gebhart. "If it's a wonderful success, we'll give some serious thought to trying to acquire this spot or finding another spot. Right now we're taking it one day at a time."
HAN is a non-profit organization "dedicated to enriching, promoting, and supporting the arts in the Hampton area by providing art related events and educational opportunities, making the arts accessible to all ages, and nurturing community partnerships in the arts," according to its Web site.
See information about HAN, which organizes annual events like the Art Walk and Art in Bloom, at hamptonartsnetwork.org.