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Amherst Artisan Gallery celebrating fifth anniversary

John Warner (left) and the late Gil Collicott (centre) and Ted Evans envisioned the Amherst Artisans Gallery over breakfast at the Old Warehouse Café. The gallery, that started at the old train station before moving to the curling club for a summer, is celebrating its fifth anniversary in its new home, the Amherst Centre mall.
John Warner (left) and the late Gil Collicott (centre) and Ted Evans envisioned the Amherst Artisans Gallery over breakfast at the Old Warehouse Café. The gallery, that started at the old train station before moving to the curling club for a summer, is celebrating its fifth anniversary in its new home, the Amherst Centre mall. - Contributed

Amherst

From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 16, the Amherst Artisan Gallery inside the Amherst Centre mall invites you to their fifth birthday. Time to celebrate our five great years with free birthday cake and beverages, plus no admission art show and sell, contests, music with Peter Frenette, Jerry Mets & Lost Highway, and a special food menu.

It is the Amherst Artisan Gallery’s fifth birthday. Their first CFTA ad, July 10, 2013, read “Follow the tracks to the Amherst Train Station Artisan Gallery. The three amigos – Gil Collicott, Ted Evans and John Warner – have taken over the former Amherst train station. It is a genuine local craft store and artisan gallery. Something for everyone. No disappointment allowed.”

The ‘amigos’ had started with an idea from a few coffee breaks at the Warehouse Café, even had their own assigned table. Having a blank sheet of paper, Gil said “Let’s see the mayor with our plan.” Mayor Robert Small obliged.

Within three weeks the Amherst town council and VIA Rail agreed with a trial run – occupy the Amherst Train Station for three months and promote local art. These two sponsors were the foundation of their dream. Their seed money, commonly called the rent and power, allowed them to determine whether they could swim.

After the first three months, town development manager Roger MacIssac, and the three amigos were astounded. They had thirty-four local artisans join the gallery. They sold stuff and had very positive feedback from hundreds of visitors. Their progress report recommended a three-month extension to the end of 2013. Amherst town council and VIA Raid agreed, again. More ‘wow success,’ as the amigos called it.

Unfortunately, the interior of the Amherst Train Station crashed beyond commercial use. After year-end the amigos and friends had to find a new home if they were to continue. After a bit of searching and making proposals, the Amherst Curling Club organization made them an offer they couldn’t refuse – once the ice surface was removed they could use the service until the Fall of 2014. Their fees were generous and we occupied a usually vacant building for the summer.

The amigos kept looking. Co-habit the curling ice surface was not an option – go figure. All the Artisan Gallery members were beyond thankful to the Amherst Curling Club organization, especially Joan Cameron. There were given life while looking for a magical permanent address.

Yes, they found a good fit for the Artisan Gallery – their current location, Amherst Centre mall. The gallery has grown three times since their arrival in September 2014. Gill Collicott and Ted Evans may have passed, but John Warner still pursues the ‘plan’ they developed at the Warehouse Café in the spring of 2013.
Now they have more than seventy local artisans, occupying more than 12,000 square feet at the mall (open all year), seven Cumberland-Westmorland County satellite locations (open during the summer) providing one-of-a-kind, distinctive, handcrafted and local artisan products.

Winter 2017 was another signature venture with the occupation of the former Target store with their own market and café. John Helm and John Warner partnered to create a client-initiated request: a Nova Scotia certified but informal breakfast and lunch area for the Artisan Gallery, stage setting for music and, most important, a place to support community fundraising events.

Come join the fifth ‘birthday party’ from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on June 16 at the Amherst Centre Mall. The kitchen will include food, music with Peter Frenette and Jerry Metz and Lost Highway, contests and an art show.

- Written by John Warner

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