Art Watch: New gallery owner for the new year

Megan Umbs and her father David recently purchased the iconic Longwood Art Gallery that has been a fixture at 200 E. State Street in Kennett Square for almost 12 years. While the gallery will continue to exhibit the traditional landscape paintings, owner Megan Umbs wants to shake it up a bit and also bring in a contemporary, eclectic mix of artists and media.  This Monday, Megan will clear the walls and invite all local artists to submit "rooster themed" artwork for a big, bold and fun Chinese New Year exhibition scheduled for February 2017. Get your rooster pieces into Longwood Art Gallery this Monday and be featured in their newest show!


Longwood Art Gallery

Longwood Art Gallery

The past two months have been a flurry of activity at the gallery, with furniture and walls moved out and new lighting, throw rugs and a Bob Deane installation of stunning ceramic works moved in. The gallery is instantly brighter and more inviting, and the exhibition space now seems large and light filled.  More plans are on the way, like redoing the floors, repainting, and clearing up the backrooms to display more art.  Meanwhile, the frame side of the Longwood Art Gallery is booming, with owners Megan and David Umbs putting in ten hour days.

another image of owner Megan UmbI spoke with Megan recently about her plans to make Longwood Art Gallery a destination gallery. Kicking off the opening of the new gallery will be a celebration of Chinese New Year, the year of the rooster, with an all-out artist shout-out for rooster artwork. On Monday, January 23rd from 9 a.m. to closing, she will be receiving art work for the rooster show. Artwork can be in any medium, including sculpture, but it must be ready to hang or display.

She is particularly excited to bring in young, new local artists, "I am more than happy to be the springboard for a new artist!"  If you are interested in showing at Longwood Art Gallery's new show, just go to the gallery and bring one or two ready to show artworks that have a rooster theme.  The show goes up for the First Friday, February 3rd with a fun artist opening reception scheduled for that evening.

Also in the works are a series or artist discussions with the exhibiting artists, as well as artist framing discussions for framing paintings as well as photography. Artists are always concerned about framing their pieces to their best advantage, and Megan Umbs has a plethora of information to share about that subject! She went to school for framing, and has a large supply of framing examples at her gallery. "I got rid of all the metal frames…if someone wants that then there are many places to get those."

Megan knows that framing is very individual, both for the artwork and for the customer, and she has a great eye for finding the frame that best compliments the art piece.  "I love what I do!" she exclaims, "I love to be surrounded by wonderful pieces of art!  People come into the gallery all the time to look, but they don't ask questions.  I want the gallery to be full of energy and people talking about the artwork."

Megan and her father David live just blocks away in downtown Kennett Square, and have been looking for a project to do together since he retired twenty years ago. "He knows most of the artists here because we have them all hanging on our walls at home! We love the artists that we already have at the gallery, but we would love to have more variety, more mediums, to make it a fresh and exciting place to be.

"She and her father have been filing their house with Longwood Art Gallery artwork for more than 6 years, and when former owners Sheila Washington and Marjorie Kuhn confided that they would be retiring from the gallery, Megan and David knew "It was the right timing! We looked at each other and said, “We're buying!'"

Everything is all about "local" for Megan and David Umbs. Items in the gallery, like the rugs from Holly Peters, her shoes from Ashley Austin are all locally sourced and she enthusiastically praises all of her store neighbors. "We are like a family around here!" she smiles.  Her phone is constantly buzzing all during the interview with store neighbors calling "to just chat."

Kennett Square has gone through an artistic renaissance over the past ten years, but most of the buzz is two blocks down on State, near Philter and Talula's Table, but Longwood Art Gallery hopes to change all that.  There have been some terrific, chic, fun new stores that have opened recently, just north of the main hub on State Street.

One of a kind jewelry artist Amanda Kane opened up her wonderful "Bohemian boutique" across the street, called Salt & Stone in June of 2016.  The artistically inspired gift store, The Orange Door, also opened its doors in 2016.  Mala Galleria, owned by Stella Scott, is just a couple doors down from Longwood Art Gallery, and always has terrific shows of contemporary art.  With the new facelift for Longwood Art Gallery, and the creative energy of her neighboring stores, this section of State Street  now the place to be.

If you are an artist with a nice rooster or two to exhibit, stop by the gallery this Monday to submit your works.  For  artists and art lovers alike, make sure to say hello on First Friday to Megan and David Umbs at The Longwood Art Gallery, as well as Stella Scott at Mala Galleria, Amanda Kane at Salt & Stone, and Linda Elsdon at The Orange Door!

About Lele Galer

Lele Galer is an artist who has chaired numerous art shows, taught art history and studio art, public art and has chaired, written and taught the Art in Action Art Appreciation series for the UCFD schools for the past 12 years. She worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and wrote for the Associated Press in Rome. She has been dedicated to Art History and art education for most of her adult life. Lele and her husband Brad own Galer Estate Winery in Kennett Square.



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