Perlow-Stevens Gallery reaches $40,000 in private contributions

Thursday, July 11, 2013 | 7:42 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — As Joel Sager told it, staff members of Perlow-Stevens Gallery anxiously waited for their fundraising Web page to reach the $40,000 mark on Wednesday night.

As the amount grew, staffers texted each other with excitement.

About 11 p.m., they reached the goal of $40,000 in private contributions to keep the gallery running. It's part of a larger plan to raise $100,000. Sager said the next step is to get $60,000 in corporate contributions.

Sager, an artist who has worked as an associate curator at the downtown gallery for nine years, is taking over the gallery from Chris Stevens and Jennifer Perlow, who have moved to Colorado.

When the private contributions goal was reached, Sager made the announcement via text message to the other three staffers.

"It was kind of a virtual toasting," he said.

About 150 community members contributed in amounts ranging from $25 to $5,500, according to the gallery's fundraising page. The money will be used for marketing, promoting artists, sending out mailers and operational costs, Sager said.

"The community is gathering because they want to see the crucial element of the arts staying alive," he said.

Sager said people have been "insanely giving."

"We sent out one email to artists to see if they could help us out and within 24 hours, 50 pieces of artwork were donated," he said.

Sager sees the downtown gallery as a meeting spot for the community, as a place to host philanthropic events and as a space for inspiration and creativity.

"I've never seen a gallery that has the model we do," Sager said. "We do rotating group shows, where an entire body of work of four to five artists expose their whole work."

The gallery tries to focus on exhibiting local artists as well as those with national reputations, he said.

But even as they have their eyes on the future, gallery staffers were working Thursday to hang Perlow-Stevens' late summer exhibit, which will showcase five artists' new work.  A public reception will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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