Published Sunday, April 20, 2008
Artist with Business Sense
Arts Spectrum :: now available at: http://artsspectrum.blogspot.com
Very few creative artists have business sense, or even express an interest
in business plans. An exception is Connie Vlahoulis, who began The Conn-Artist
Studios & Art Gallery on the second floor of the Hunter Building on N. Main
St., Hendersonville, and has now moved the business to a ground floor
location at 611 Greenville Hwy., Hendersonville.
Vlahoulis has been membership chair for the Art League of Henderson
County, inspired evening meetings and was ALHC “artist of the month” in
February 2007. Her mother, Barbara J. Hipwell, won 2007 “artist of the
year” recognition from the league. The new location, like the old one,
provides working space for both mother and daughter, services for active
artists and retail are sales.
Conn-Artist is the site of numerous workshops. Kathy Gagnon teaches
“intermediate watercolor painting” each Tuesday, and is adding an “advanced
florals” course. A workshop with Joan Murphy will be given May 3. Past
instructors include Susan Webb Tregay (author of Master Disaster, Five
Steps to Finishing Your Painting).
The “open studio” was the first source of revenue when Conn-Artist
opened, and open studio continues more conveniently in the new location,
with ample free parking behind the building. Most artists enjoy working in
the company of fellow artists. Stimulation comes from discussing subjects
while working side by side. At nominal cost, artists of any skill level can
paint along with others from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. several days each week.
Special events will continue. You may recall the highly successful “79.9”
Juried Art Show (you had to be 79 years, 9 months or older to enter) which
was juried by Wendy Whitson in September 2007 with Chloe Boehm taking first
prize for a mixed media painting “Many Moons Ago.”
The new location, being a typical storefront, is better suited for retail
gallery sales than the old. Track lighting has been added and additional
wall space will be created through movable standards. Already, folk artist
Mike Darras from Chattanooga, Tenn., has been added to the list of those
represented. And while names would be premature, one or more distinguished
local artists may move their works to Conn-Artist in May.
A talk with Vlahoulis will convince you that she is a marketer in the
best sense of the word, one who studies the needs of customers and
intelligently responds to those needs. The art on sale represents several
genres and a broad price range. Jewelry and note cards supplement the art.
Some paintings are also available in fine giclée reproductions.
Any marketer worth his or her salt will realize that the new location has
the disadvantage of not being in the pedestrian traffic of art patrons on
North Main Street. However, the successful Hand in Hand Gallery is all the
way down in Flat Rock, while Oliver’s Folk Art and Mona! (representing
Kimberly Adams and others) are also at the south end of downtown. There are
a number of other (non-artistic) businesses in the area that could also use
some promotion. Vlahoulis is flying a trial balloon to call South
Hendersonville “SoHo, where the locals go.” Since she was a highly
successful real estate salesperson in her Michigan days (in the top 1
percent of the country), Vlahoulis may make it happen.
Conn-Artist Studios & Art Gallery’s new location is three doors down from
Whitley Drugs in the Atha Plaza, just south of Fresh Market. See
www.conn-artist.com or call 329-2918 for details.
Ted McIrvine can be reached at McIrvine@aol.com.