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Artists association seeks new gallery space
After Humpus Bumpus, next stop uncertain
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Forsyth County News

The Sawnee Artists Association is looking for a new home, two years after relocating to Humpus Bumpus.

Financial constraints on the small Cumming bookstore have forced owner Paul Cossman to pursue options he hopes may yield higher returns.

“It’s a valuable space and in this economy, I need to do things to make money,” said Cossman, who did not charge the gallery rent.

Artists will clear their work from the business Saturday, making room for a selection of rare collectable books.

Evelyn Valk, association president, said there are no hard feelings over the decision.

“We had a really good relationship and we’re sorry it had to end," she said. "But you know, times are a little harder and people have to make more money.

"We are just grateful he let us do it. We really appreciated him and it was a wonderful thing he did for us.”

Valk said there are no plans for the future.

“We’re going to have to put [gallery items] in storage until we can find another gallery,” she said. “This just came up a few weeks ago, so we haven’t had a lot of time to do a lot of looking yet, but we plan to.

“We don’t have anything right now, but we would be happy to have someone offer us something.”

The gallery opened at the bookstore in December 2006. That was about a year after the 100-member artist group lost its gallery space when the Sawnee Cultural Arts Center was sold to Forsyth County.

Though Cossman wasn’t charging rent, the association offered a portion of profits on artwork sold in the gallery.

“We feel like he was our little guardian angel when we needed help,” said Edith Hill Smith, director of the association’s gallery. “He came along and helped us. It’s been a joy for me to have worked with him all this time.

“I’m going to miss him.”

Cossman said he offered the space because he was able to.

"That way the store could make a little money while offering a nice place for the artists,” Cossman said.

The association is funded primarily through annual $25 dues, though additional income and exposure comes from three annual shows: Christmas in  Central Park arts festival; the Sawnee Arts Festival in the spring; and the Bellezza Art Exhibit.

The Sawnee Arts Festival, slated for March 28, may be the next opportunity for the organization’s artists to showcase their work.

Smith said she hopes to find a home before then, but is thankful to Cossman for the new members and public interest generated from the Humpus Bumpus venue.

"We went in there and made it like a real gallery. And it felt like a real gallery,” she said. “We made a lot of sales, we met a lot of people and, well, it’s been fun.”