Art gallery finds success in office complex
THE PEOPLE, PLACES AND TRADITIONS THAT MAKE NEWARK UNIQUE
JaneKav Art Gallery is perhaps the only art space where patrons can peruse ceramics while waiting for their tax forms.
Most people don’t know there is a gallery inside Suite 103 in the professional complex at 625 Barksdale Road, artist and proprietor Jane Kavanagh Morton said. Visitors, she said, typically find out through word of mouth or are already friends or neighbors.
“We have clients that come in a lot during tax season, and they’re delighted to come in and look at something really nice before they go back and find out what the problem is with their taxes or how much they have to owe,” Kavanagh Morton said.
Her husband, Jeff, runs Alma Company Accounting. He’s operated the business in its current location for about 25 years. Before that, it was his father’s accounting firm.
Kavanagh Morton studied ceramic art at Hood College in Maryland and has worked in various mediums for 40 years. She sells her work at The Palette & The Page gallery in Elkton, Md., and in an online Etsy shop. But her pieces continued to fill the Mortons’ home in the nearby Oaklands neighborhood.
So, about five years ago, the couple came up with the idea of moving some of her work to the office.
“It’s great,” Jeff said of the gallery now occupying his waiting room and back office. “Before this, we had a bunch of old accounting books.”
The accounting office and gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Kavanagh Morton is usually off-site working in her home studio but visits the gallery by appointment and is also in during her bi-annual open house. The accounting firm has about 250 clients, and about 70 to 80 visitors showed up at the last JaneKav open house, Kavanagh Morton said.
“When we have the openings, it’s a real neighborhood gathering,” Kavanagh Morton said. “And people say, ‘I had no idea this was here.’ And I say, ‘Well, now you know.’”
The next open house, her Holiday Art Show, will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday at JaneKav Art Gallery, with a preview of the event from 6 to 9 p.m. tonight. In addition to ceramics from Kavanagh Morton, the show will also include photography and encaustics from her sister, Baltimore-based artist Nancy Kavanagh O’Neill, and ceramics from fellow Delaware artist Paula Camenzind.
Although each artist has a distinct style, Kavanagh Morton said she expects visitors will see the artists have a kind of “comfortableness” among each other.
The Kavanagh sisters, she said, both found inspiration in their family’s history of Irish coppersmiths who settled in Baltimore.
One of Kavanagh Morton’s largest sculptures on display in the gallery is a brew pot, which her father suggested, and which is based off a photograph Kavanagh Morton took of a whiskey kettle at Jameson Distillery in Ireland. In another room, photos of Irish towns from Kavanagh O’Neill appear alongside miniature ceramic houses.
While both Kavanagh Morton and Camenzind work with clay, their work shows two different sides of ceramics. Camenzind uses porcelain to create timeless vases and bowls based on ancient Chinese works. She then enhances the surface with glazes in iridescent blues and purples, and textures inspired by shells, coral and sea glass.
“What I love to hear from people who have my work is they pet it, they pick it up and they hold it,” Camenzind said.
Kavanagh Morton’s work, while still tactile, is more whimsical and narrative, and has a rustic appearance. All of her works – many of which feature little faces – are created with her hands, through the process of slab making and coil building, and she prefers not to use the throwing wheel.
“I think it will work together because it is different,” Kavanagh Morton said of the show. “Variety is the spice of life.”
Perhaps that’s the same reason a neighborhood gallery has found a home in an accounting office.
Our Town is an occasional series that explores the people, places and traditions that make Newark unique. Send suggestions to email@example.com.
Artist Jane Kavanagh Morton (right) poses with fellow Delaware artist Paula Camenzind in the JaneKav Art Gallery on Barksdale Road.
Miniature ceramic houses created by Jane Kavanagh Morton are on display alongside photography from Nancy Kavanagh O’Neill in the JaneKav Art Gallery.
Pottery created by Paula Camenzind is on display in the JaneKav Art Gallery.