Nancy Collery’s business has occupied more than her time. It has also occupied a good part of her home. Main Street Gallery is her front parlor, den and dining room. Her front door is the gallery’s front door.
After 20 years, Nancy wants her house back. So at month’s end, she is closing up shop.
“Many moons ago I read an article in Bay Weekly that focused on the question what is enough? Twenty years feels like enough.”
The sign of the purple hand in front announced Prince Frederick’s Main Street Gallery. Parking was out back. The walk from your car to the front door was as much fun as the art inside: You walked around the side of the house past the garden of broken dishes and shards of pottery, an artful way to control runoff that helped earn Collery and husband Jeff Klapper’s yard a Bay Wise certification.
Inside was color everywhere. Highlighted against tangerine and lavender walls was a rainbow of jewelry, pottery, textiles, acrylics, watercolors, collages.
For many years, Main Street Gallery was the only place for miles to expose yourself to art or funky finds: daughter Parran Collery’s wall-art tiles, a bracelet of hand-knotted silver, a watercolor of a local salt marsh, a porcelain dog ornament, a string of felt Tibetan good luck birds or a grinning red Buddha.
Collery’s special weekends, usually around the holidays, were seasonal rites. She filled grab bags with odds and ends from the gallery’s collection, chosen “at random but with purpose.” On these weekends, the gallery expanded into Klapper and Collery’s old kitchen. Customers mingled around the table, nibbled on locally made treats and sipped Collery’s signature deep red sangria.
That old kitchen — really its replacement — was the catalyst for Collery’s decision to close shop. Last year, she and Klapper had an addition built for a big, new — and of course colorful — kitchen.
“I love my beautiful new kitchen,” Nancy says. “I got to thinking that if this feels this good, this big space, how good would it feel to have the whole house back?”
Come August, the house — its new kitchen, dining room, front parlors — will revert to a family home.
Collery is a local girl, raised on Broomes Island Road and educated in Calvert’s public schools. She left Calvert for a few years, following her first husband’s military career. In 1975, she came home to inherit her grandmother’s 1920 house on Prince Frederick’s Main Street.
There Collery, herself an artist, decided to give other artists a place to show and sell their art.
“I made art, I collected art, I love art,” Collery says, “I thought there was a place in the community for a gallery that could present a different perspective. I went public with my passion.”
Main Street Gallery opened with work by a handful of artists who were also friends looking for a place that fit their art.
“Those early years I had artists like Maggie Venn and her oils, Joe Rizza and his drawings, Susan Stockman and her jewelry and mosaics,” Collery recalls. Plus daughter Parran’s pottery.
In 20 years, the handful of friends and family showing in Main Street Gallery grew to more than 70 artists.
Both Collery and Klapper are looking forward to the next chapter.
“We’re going to take our time, work on our house, really reclaim it,” Collery says. “We’re going to get furniture out of storage. After 20 years, I can’t remember what I’ve got. I’ll have empty walls to fill with things I want to look at.”
Main Street Gallery isn’t going away entirely. Collery plans to host small, intimate shows from time to time. High on her list will be open play-dates at Parran’s outback ceramic studio — and of course, sangria.
“I always said I wanted to close with my colors flying,” Collery says. “This seems a good time to do just that.”