Spare Parts Gallery offers mix of old and new

New gallery offers a mixture of art and photography at affordable prices
Monday, October 15, 2007 | 11:24 a.m. CDT; updated 9:14 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

A gold-speckled black mannequin with a missing head anchors the left side of a window display at the Spare Parts Gallery in downtown Columbia. Down a black ramp, the gallery at 8 S. Ninth St. presents a mishmash of art and antiques.

On the vivid red and orange walls hang large paintings and photos. A narrow mirror runs the length of one wall; between the paintings and photos, visitors glimpse their own curious reflections looking at the art. Smaller paintings, prints, books and sculptures sit on antique chairs, tables and bookcases.

Lisa Bartlett, one of four owners of the shop, said the pieces were displayed among furniture and housewares to show how the pieces might look as decor in the home.

“It’s eclectic and functional,” Bartlett said of the space.

The gallery, which opened May 1, is owned and run by Bartlett, Doug Freeman, Jessie Lawson and Stephanie Foley, four Columbia artists. Each has unique style; for example, Lawson’s work features cats.

The name comes from an antique shop Bartlett ran in the past. She had a mixture of pieces from the Victorian and Art Deco eras, so when she and Lawson shared a studio together, Lawson dubbed it the Spare Parts Studio.

The name fits well for this new gallery. At the foot of the black ramp, a man made of, well, spare parts, greets visitors with a red gallery magnet. His head is an old bicycle seat, his body a metal frame of old springs and bars.

Liz Mitchell, a Columbia photographer, said she loves the place. Some of her photos of local blues groups Chump Change and the Bel Airs are sitting in the front window with the mannequin. She said she’s received some good feedback by displaying there and plans to exhibit in later shows as well.

Bartlett said the community’s reaction to the gallery has been good. On the first Artrageous Friday in late April, a few days before the gallery officially opened, Spare Parts had about 600 visitors. Artrageous Friday is a downtown series in which galleries remain open later and hold special events.

And the visitors aren’t just Columbia residents. On a recent weekday, Andy Stine of Denver strolled in the gallery with son Sam while waiting for his wife, Kebbie, to pick up a sweater at a neighboring store. His right hand held Sam’s hand while in his left he carried an iced coffee, and he asked Bartlett whether it was OK to bring the two into the shop. After all, most art galleries are decidedly anti-small child and anti-hand-held beverage.

It’s fine, Bartlett told him, laughing. He told Stine he’s living on the edge.

Stine said they stopped in Columbia while driving from North Carolina because both his parents are MU alumni. As for stepping into the gallery, he just came in to look for anything funky or cool while waiting.

Kebbie Stine looked around the place when she caught up with her husband and son.

“I like how it’s a mixture of antiques and fresh art,” she said.

That mixture is everywhere. Two antique straight-backed chairs share a spot in the middle of the store, resting against a table that holds a set of vintage blue glass with green spots. On one of the chairs sits a fresh art piece: a long-eared doll that looks like a gray mixture of an elephant and a sheep stares with round green eyes and reaches out with thin rectangular arms, as if asking for a hug.

The gallery’s September show, “Gimme Shelter,” was designed to raise awareness about domestic violence and abuse. Ten percent of the proceeds of each sale — 5 percent from the gallery’s profits and 5 percent from the artist’s — went to The Shelter, for women and children in abusive situations.

October’s show, “On the Wall, Off the Wall,” is open-themed and will run through the holiday season. Bartlett hopes it will offer good gift-giving ideas. Shows rotate about every three months, and if a piece doesn’t sell during its run, it goes back to the artists.

There’s art for every budget here. The large paintings on the walls are the most expensive pieces, with tags between $200 and $450, while smaller pieces have tags that read “One American dollah!” or “Ten of your hard-earned dollars.”

”We’re just really happy to be able to offer original art at affordable prices for our customers,” Bartlett said.

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