Oct 13, 2023

Ward Gallery, a fixture in the local arts scene, concludes its run

PETOSKEY — Ward Gallery, a longtime purveyor of the fine arts in the Petoskey area, has closed.

Craig Bell, owner of Ciao Bella Home which shared the same building with Ward Gallery at 409 E. Lake St., said the building's owner decided to change tenants in the space occupied by the gallery.

"The new owner of our building has chosen to rent that space out as an office," Bell said.

Bell said Ciao Bella Home was on the main floor and Ciao Bella Design and Interiors on the lower level will remain in business at the location.

"The gallery was always a small part of our business," he said.

The gallery originally began in Memphis as Bell Ross and became Ward in the late 1980s in Harbor Springs and was then moved to Petoskey in the mid 1990s.

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Ward exhibited original fine art, including paintings, sculpture, glass, wood, ceramics and furniture by established professional artists. It showcased regional and international artists working in a variety of genre and styles including abstract/non objective, objective, landscape, still life, figurative, transitional and expressive.

"We had a Northern Michigan artist (Elizabeth Mullens) who was from here originally and now lives in Grand Rapids," said Bell. "She was an important part of that gallery and we will continue to show her work in our main store."

For those interested in works by Mullens, they can speak to Bell or Nicole Kopytko, the manager of Ciao Bella.

Bell said it was sad to see the gallery go after so many years of operation in the region.

"We started it in Tennessee and came up here in 1985 and changed the name. It is sad as it has been an important part of our lives," added Bell.

He noted that the new building owner didn't want to continue the art business and chose to rent the space to someone else.

— Contact Paul Welitzkin at [email protected].