Chadds Ford Gallery closing

The end of era trend continues. On May 11 it was officially announced that Hank's Place was under new ownership and now the Chadds Ford Gallery is preparing to close its doors for good.

The current exhibit, featuring the works of Don Shoffner and Tim Wadsworth, has no official name, but gallery owner Jackie Winther is thinking of it as "The Last Picture Show." There will be no Christmas in Miniature this December.

Chadds Ford Gallery Director Barbara Moore greets old friend Dan Dubet during the opening night reception of the gallery’s final exhibit. The show runs through June 4, but the gallery will close in July.

While the closing had been discussed privately for several months, Winther decided it was time to make the closing public. In a Facebook post she said:

"In July, we will be moving our entire business online and be closing (to the public) our gallery space. This will allow me, and my husband to do some much-needed traveling. You will still be able to get all the same services, prints and paintings from us, it will just be in a different capacity."

She later said there's been a trend over the years for increased online business. Gallery Director Barbara Moore has been witness to an ever-shrinking walk-in business but said web and telephone sales have increased, and much of that online traffic is foreign. Many sales recently have gone to Japan, Britain, South America and Australia, Moore said.

It's uncertain at this time where or even if the gallery will have a physical presence anywhere. Winther said she wants to have a virtual gallery and Moore said she will still work selling Paul Scarborough artwork, helping people with framing and finding Wyeth art.

Winther's parents — Walt and Shirley Winther, bought the gallery in 1969 from Hank Smedley and Dan Winters — and Moore came on board in 1976. According to Moore, the gallery was the first in the area to have a Christmas in Miniature show.

Local artists are reflective and saddened.

Artist Tim Wadsworth talks with gallery visitors during the opening night reception.

According to Karl Kuerner, "The gallery was a beacon, a magnet for other galleries and artists. They had a wonderful run. But the only guarantee in life is change. Maybe this will provide an opportunity for someone else to come in. Maybe this isn't so much a good-bye, but a see you later."

Barbara Tlush said she was "crushed" after hearing the news.

"This was such a touchstone place in the art world, rich with history," Tlush said. "Barbara Moore was the mom of the place, always there to take on whatever we came in with, whether we were bringing in art or seeking advice. She has the best ears, greatest wisdom, and the kindest heart. I wish it weren't true. It's going to leave a hole in our hearts and in Chadds Ford."

Chadds Ford photographer Rob Porter was also saddened by the news. "The gallery has been a long-time anchor for the Chadds Ford arts community. It's sad to see it go, but we understand that things move on."

The artists currently showing are just as reflective.

Shoffner has been displaying his work at the gallery for 14 years and called his early experience there "a great opportunity…I'm amazed and tickled to death over my success here."

Wadsworth's relationship with the gallery goes back 23 years.

"It's been my home gallery for my whole art career. I've been honored having my work among those of the Wyeths. I'm still in shock over the closing. I always figured the gallery would always be here," Wadsworth said.

"The Last Picture Show" closes June 4. The gallery closes in July.



About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.



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