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Things are looking up at The Loft

Patty Werick and Debbie Hornidge were already renting the space that is now The Loft in downtown Culpeper to pursue their passion as working artists.

Now that passion has been expanded to include the works of others in textiles, jewelry, pottery, painting, sculpture and photography.

And things are looking up… literally.

“We don't have a ground level presence so we had to put a sign out front to let people know where we were,” said Werick of the space on East Davis Street. “That was fine when we were painting here, but since we have opened the gallery the challenge is to be interesting enough for people to find our door and then climb a long flight of stairs. I'm not above taking my dogs downstairs. Children  and  dogs always draw attention.”

The ladies decided to set weekend hours for The Loft so they could spend the rest of the week concentrating on their own painting.

“Although we are only open Friday, Saturday and Sunday we get calls from people who live out of town and can't be here on a weekend,” said Werick. “Or sometimes a woman will see something she likes but says she has to go home and talk to her husband. I only live 10 minutes away so I can get here to meet people fairly quickly. It works out well.”

Werick said she and Hornidge have been renting the space for the past two and a half years as a private studio, along with local architect Michael Lysczek, their third partner.

“We thought it might be fun to have not only our own work, but that of friends. We had a soft opening in June and it took off like wildfire as friends told friends of friends,” she said. “We have sold out all of our own work and now the challenge is to find time to do our painting while running the gallery and shop.”

Werick said visitors have been very complimentary and supportive.

“I am so happy we have gone ahead and done this,” she said. “We  looked at each other at first and said, 'do we really need to add something else to our plate?' but (The Loft) is like having children – it was more of an emotional than an intellectual decision.”

Hornidge said it has been “very interesting to meet fellow artists” through The Loft.

“We envisioned people coming in to look around and we'd say 'hello' to them and go about our painting, but we found you can't be engaged in a project and working with people,” she said. “But people do appreciate it here and that's rewarding. Many remark favorably on what we have done with the space.”

Werick said one of the reasons they wanted to rent the space originally was due to the revitalization of the downtown.

“It just keeps getting better and better here and we have enjoyed becoming part of the arts community here,” Werick said.

She said that The Loft carries the work of about 20 artists.

“Our priority is that they be from Virginia,” Hornidge said. “It varies as to who we showcase, who we hang.”

Werick said it's too early to tell if The Loft will be successful long-term.

“We have to go through a whole year and see how we do over the winter and the holidays,” she said. “But a bit of a slow time will give Debbie and I an opportunity to catch up on some things,” Werick said.  “Our business plan contains a section as to what success would look like to us.”

Added Hornidge: “We figured that since we were paying rent and needed this space to work in anyway that we would go ahead and open a gallery.”

“Our mission is more than just selling artwork,” said Werick. “It has to do with bringing art to the community and starting a dialogue.”
What: The Loft
Address: 107-B E. Davis St.
Phone: 540-359-2975
E-mail: artists@culpeperloft.net
Website: www.culpeperloft.net
Facebook: The Loft
Hours: Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and other days by appointment.
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