by Bri Kilroy | photography by Two Eagles Marcus
Birthdays are traditionally caked with increased focus on the individual who has successfully made it through another year, but LaFontsee Galleries isn’t celebrating its vitality independently because, as co-owners Scott and Linda LaFontsee expressed, “We wouldn’t be here without the community.” As an unconditional “thank you” to those who have supported the passionate and welcoming gallery over the last 30 years, from its Underground Studio on Grand Street to its two locations in Douglas and Grand Rapids, LaFontsee Galleries invites you to join them in celebrating three decades that embody the tenacity of endurance and family.
What would grow into a beloved neighborhood gallery space began with Scott LaFontsee’s independent framing service run out of his basement. The average Hallmark Valentine plot may have you thinking this is leading to a meet-cute launching the origin of Scott and Linda LaFontsee, but their story is equally enchanting; Linda, a Kendall student at the time, met Scott while he was working as a fine art photographer during an art opening at the Gaiai Cafe. Among the similarities that connected the two, the urge to provide a space for artists to show their work guided Scott and Linda on the journey that brought LaFontsee Galleries to the East Hills neighborhood in 2011, providing more space to reach the GR audience.
“We grew up as the city grew up,” Scott recalled. “The last 10 years have changed immensely with art interest and appreciation.”
Interest in art has skyrocketed over the past decade with the introduction of ArtPrize and the murals that proudly cover our institutions. LaFontsee Galleries maintains the all-inclusive vibe by serving as a space for the public to come in at their leisure, absorb the quality LaFontsee offers through art and services and interact with the team and artists behind the paintings.
“[We create] a further deepening of community where you can meet and talk to the artists,” Linda said.
The hub that resulted from the motivation to create a place that brings people to art and fosters long term relationships (many former employees show their work at LaFontsee) is the heart of exposing people to beautiful art, providing quality service and treating everyone with kindness to the point where you feel like a member of the family. The eye, service and opportunity LaFontsee provides earns it a surprise birthday/appreciation party, but leave it to their talented foresight and gratitude to get to it before we could.
The party kicks off with an opening reception revealing new artwork by more than 50 artists, ranging from acrylic and oil paintings to sculptures of all media. Adding more energy into the surroundings is music by a live DJ, light refreshments and plenty of behind-the-scenes tours that give attendees the chance to witness the action taking place behind gallery walls like their storage area, saturated with over 3,000 works, and getting an up-close look at the team in action. An additional feature that allows guests to walk the timeline of LaFontsee’s history is a hallway illustrating the last 30 years with photos and artwork. Artists also share their experience with the gallery through recorded interviews playing during the opening reception.
The opening reception occurs February 9, 6-9 p.m. Five percent of all art sales made during the 30th Anniversary Celebration exhibit supports Cooks Arts Center and Artists Creating Together (ACT), two nonprofits that offer art programs to underprivileged children. The celebration is free and open to the public, welcoming everyone to view, ponder, discuss and appreciate art among the artists who made it and the community that supported it.
What: LaFontsee Galleries’ 30th Anniversary Celebration
Where: LaFontsee Galleries GR, 833 Lake Dr. SE
When: Opening Reception February 9, 6-9 p.m. Exhibit runs February 9-April 6