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Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on January 30th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 13, Issue 47 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 13, Issue 47

Out but not down

The Town Center Gallery closes its location, but is eager to fill another space with local art


The Santa Maria Valley has been woefully lacking in terms of privately owned art galleries for several years. Most places to show art are on government land, such as the Santa Maria Public Library’s Shepard Hall or Allan Hancock College’s Ann Foxworthy Gallery. But one private gallery has stayed strong due to its realistic and community-based approach to local art. The Town Center Gallery, which has been around since 2005, must, unfortunately, shutter its current location and search for a new home.

The Town Center Gallery is closing its doors, but hoping to find a new home in the Santa Maria Valley.

“We don’t want anybody to think we are closing,” said gallery president Sharon Foster. “We just had to move from here because it just became more than what we could afford. We are still showing art at the Santa Maria Airport, and we are looking forward to having a gallery again because we think it is important to showcase local, community art.”

The Town Center Gallery, named after its first location in the Santa Maria Town Center, is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that adopted the style of a co-op in order to allow a large number of local artists to display their art and help keep the gallery going. Local artists who signed up were allowed to display their art at the location as long as they paid yearly dues and volunteered some time in the gallery. It was this communal approach to the gallery that’s helped keep it flourishing.

“That’s something that really speaks for the Town Center Gallery,” Foster said, “that the people who have been involved in it are really caring about having this gallery open somewhere.”

The Town Center Gallery represents a certain freedom for local artists. Approaching a gallery in the hopes of showing work can be a daunting endeavor, but the gallery’s community approach has led artists in many media to join and start displaying their works.

“We show pretty much any art medium that people do in Santa Maria,” Foster said. “We are just here for the local artists to have a place to show their art. We also had our featured artist where we showcased their work for two months at a time.”

Gallery director Hattie Stoddard, education director Beverly Johnson, and president Sharon Foster (pictured left to right) say the Town Center Gallery may not have a home right now, but it’s not gone for good.

Keep up on the TCG
Information about the Town Center Gallery and new locations are available at,, or 349-7303.

The gallery quickly became a community hub, buzzing with artistic activity and acting as a home for Santa Maria Arts Council meetings as well as other groups. In 2006, organizers began offering art classes to adults and children. Beverly Johnson, the education director for the gallery, has put together many classes that paired a skilled artist and member of the gallery with a group of interested locals, including youth.

“The parents and grandparents recognize that their children or grandchildren have a skill they aren’t learning in schools anymore,” Johnson said. “We teach kids’ group classes, and even had a whole class come from Dana School once.”

Hattie Stoddard has been the Town Center Gallery director since its inception, and is grateful for the time spent in the soon-to-be vacated location, where they’ve operated since 2009.

“We are grateful that they let us have this spot at a reduced price in the beginning,” Stoddard said, “and they were really wonderful about saying ‘OK, we will try you out,’ but we just felt like it was time to move now.”

Foster, Stoddard, and Johnson are all optimistic about the gallery’s relocation. They’re currently negotiating with the Santa Maria Airport to include additional art there and are currently showing art in a display case in the Elwin Mussell Senior Center.

“We have a bunch of really dedicated people who have really enjoyed pulling this together,” Foster said, “and we are just anxious to get someplace else. This isn’t the end. We are ready and willing to move somewhere else.”

Arts Editor Joe Payne’s heart is always open. Contact him at


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