There was a lot of foot traffic coming into the building where a grand opening was taking place on the evening of one of those second Fridays of the month reserved for ArtWalk. The shared workspace, known as Gallery 450 (who cut the red ribbon the day before) is a model business that will hopefully be an influence on the development of more places like it downtown.
The most recent member to join the co-op was not officially set to open until a few days later but was ready enough to take advantage of the busy evening. The new member, this all-local artist & crafter boutique gallery, is filled with consignments of art, clothing, books, handmade soaps, and other assorted gifts.
At one point, an overflow of people were at a standstill on the stairs, located at the back right corner of the giant open room, trying to get into the “nest” as it has been called. In the back center part of the building is a stage, and above that stage is a cut-out, peeking into the nest. Mounted on the exterior wall is a sign declaring the store’s identity, a familiar name:
The old location, having been on the western borderland of the main entertainment area that is LoDa, Courtney Matthews, the owner of Lunatix & Co., had suffered tribulations as she made a go of it, removed slightly out of effective reach from a regular downtown foot traffic and just outside of the ArtWalk radar. Later, she would get the short end of the stick when a barricade set up to block off Dauphin Street for ArtWalk ended just shy of her location, stemming the flow of pedestrians.
Matthews says that she is excited about the move and is looking forward to the added benefit of being able to sprawl out forward into the available space for special events, down on the main floor of the building which is located at the northwest corner of Dauphin and Hamilton Streets across from the Haberdasher Bar.
Gallery 450 is already home to Crush Imaging Studios, LA Fotographee, Port City Realty, and it also features work from independent artists. Currently, you can see work from Sherry Robinson, Kent Lynam, Richie Hayes, Walter Simon, Angela Harley, Ian Glass and MobCityMetals.
The co-op approach they are using maximizes utility while minimizing expense to each tenant. According to the mission statement, their “co-working community/co-working space is perfect for start-up businesses, creative freelancers and anyone who needs to have space available to use and/or a presence in the Downtown Mobile area.”
The 3500 square feet space can accommodate 200 people and offers a place for rehearsal dinners, wedding receptions, baby showers, bridal showers, birthday parties, corporate happy hours, luncheons and more.
On this particular night, however, ArtWalk was in full motion and the main floor was already filled with people and displays of paintings and photographs. Onstage was a troubadude, Walter Simon, with his acoustic guitar and an ad-libbed Boss tune. Had us all on fire.
Having access to the main space will give her an opportunity to hold other events like movie days and rummage sales, something she has done several times in the past but at the mercy of the weather in an outdoor arena. Often times, just the suggestion of rain would keep people away from her past outdoor functions, even if the supposed inclement weather was really to be a short-lived sprinkle. Almost two weeks later, she was hosting a two day costume-building workshop for a Halloween Eve march aimed to thread the eye of the needle through the Haberdasher Bar and meant to transition into a pilgrimage across downtown to land at the final destination, Royal Street Tattoo.
Perhaps most importantly, this is a move closer to the heart of downtown activity and well inside the observed ArtWalk parameters.
Matthews said that the initial opportunity to move into the building was not a certainty at first. While she has been good friends with one of the tenants for a long time, the others wanted to be sure she would be a good fit as a regular tenant. Her background as a professional make-up artist, regular involvement with the art scene for the last ten years, and four years as a shop owner made a good resume. Then, when she began sharing some of her ideas, they opened their arms. Plus, with the other tenants coming and going due to business, it helps to have a regular shop presence available to keep the doors open and give the displays more exposure.
Continuing to brainstorm ways to make use of the space, she has already started Yoga classes and is planning for Belly Dancing instruction and other future offerings. She has some ideas for the stage as well and talked briefly about a project concept showcasing writers and musicians.
In addition to the real space, there are plans to later launch an online store that will help sell on-shelf merchandise, as well as offering exclusive items. However, those plans may be a little ways off.
Courtney Matthews and her Lunatix & Co have found a good home in a more advantageous setting, look to be a benefit to the shared workspace, and have a lot to offer the community.
She invites you to, “Come by and check out our wonderfully eclectic merchandise! All items are handmade, hand crafted, and/or upcycled wearable art by local artists. Lunatix & Co. has you covered for any of your gift giving or self-spoiling needs & wants!”
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