How did we come to exist...
Updated: Mar 29, 2021
Let me introduce myself, my name is Julie A. Beutler and I am the owner of Angelwood Gallery. I am also a potter and many of the pieces in the gallery are mine. I am not a writer, I am not formal, so I hope this goes ok, one thing this blog will always be is from my heart! Since this is my first blog...seems like the perfect place to tell you the story of Angelwood and the dreams of a young student.
Many years ago, in a small town in Michigan, I was a senior in high school and doing all the things a senior does. Enjoying the end of one chapter, excited for the next and doing the fun stuff that happen before graduation. One of them was to write a few sentences about what we thought we would be when "we grew up" and I wrote I would like to own a gallery someday. Funny thing is, I forgot all about that until I stumbled upon it a few years ago. Until then my memory was more concrete and happened 4 years after that thought I had in high school and was the true leaping off point of my adult life. I was now a senior at Siena Heights University (College) and had to decide what am I going to do with my life. I had a few options, apply to grad school to get my MFA, get a job working for someone else, make my own job. I was leaning, at first to getting my MFA. Whatever I was going to choose, I knew I would have my parents blessing and support as I always had. I went to some of my professors to talk over options as they had helped thousands of students with the same decisions. That led me to a very poignant conversation with one of my dearest mentors of my entire life, Father David Van Horn. Father Van Horn was master artist and amazing art historian and even more amazing educator and even more amazing human and I could always count on to give it to me like it is. We sat in his office, surrounded by years of books, notes, glaze samples, formulas, art work, paperwork, and he, as he always did with me, gave me the guidance I needed. I had been the gallery assistant at the college gallery for my 4 years there so I had helped hang, light, promote, watch every show in that small gallery and loved that experience but I also loved being a ceramic artist/potter. I also knew most of the contemporary artists I admired had MFA's so did I need that to succeed? And at that age, I could only think, this is for the rest of my life...I didn't understand life would hand me things and take away things constantly and how my life would organically change. But at this point it was a decision to be made and I needed help.
So there we are, sitting in his office and I am thinking it was a good thing I saved a whole hour for this meeting because we would have so much to talk about...but Father did what he always did for me...made it simple yet precise.
He simply asked:
"What do you think you want to do" and I answered, get my MFA and then open a gallery.
Then he asked:
"Do you know how to throw?" (in case you don't know, that is what working on a potter's wheel) and I answered "yes"
Then he asked:
"Do you know how to fire a kiln?" and I answered "yes"
"Do you know how to make glazes?" and I answered "yes"
"Do you know how to make clay, how to hand build, how to work in a studio" and it was all "yes, yes, yes"
"Do you want to teach at a college level" and I said "no". So he looked at me, with the sparkle in his eye anyone who was lucky enough to be have been his student-that all knowing sparkle and said..."then why are you going to pay a school $40,000?" ummmm, yes! why? He told me I know pottery and what I don't know I will learn and I had all that gallery experience so go for it. So in about 5 minutes, I marched out of that office that I loved so much from a man who challenged me and taught me in a way no other teacher ever had and knew what I was going to do. I went home, called my parents and let them know who was going to be moving home again (lol) and that I wanted to start my own business. My paternal grandparents and great grandmother were small business owners so maybe it was in my blood.
Jump a few months forward to May of 1993 and I graduated, packed up my apartment and headed back home. My dad travelled extensively for work and loved to stop at little towns for his business lunches or while waiting for clients, which made for a perfect guide to figure out where I was going to do this. I was just 21 years old and about to jump in...maybe being 21 was the key- no fear. My mom and dad took me to some local towns, we called to other bigger cities, looked at warehouses, little houses, store fronts, all kinds of places. And then we went to Grand Rapids, a small but mighty tourist town on the banks of the Maumee River. We saw my little store (it was much smaller then) with a "for rent" sign. We called the number and talked to Don and Audrey Entenman, the couple who along with Dave LaRoe, help rehabilitate many of the downtown buildings, they opened the Olde Gilead and the ice cream shop and Dave opened LaRoe's starting in the 1970-80's. They (the Entenman's) loved that I was just a kid and made it very easy for someone so young to do this...my rent was just a couple hundred dollars. So I graduated in May, signed my lease in June, and opened in August. 28 years ago, a kid, a dream, a supportive family, a terrific college professor advice and a lovely town...now I am the oldest retail shop in Grand Rapids, the oldest privately run gallery in northwest Ohio and still just as in love with my town, my gallery and my pottery as I ever was. Thankful for my school teachers from all the years who always encouraged my love of art, my family who taught me to be independent, strong and a hard worker, and a little town filled with magic. Lots of changes over the years, both personally and professionally but that is for another day. For now, as Paul Harvey would say, "Now you know the rest of the story"...on how Angelwood Gallery came to be.
Thanks for your time-