With the principal chief attending to cut the ribbon, a short ceremony was held Tuesday to officially open the Spider Gallery Shop, which will function much as a gift shop for the gallery.
The shop is across from the Spider Gallery in the Cort Mall, and includes items under $100, including jewelry, coffee mugs and home decor signs using the Cherokee syllabary.
“Items in the shop will be less expensive that those in the gallery,” said Cherokee artist Matthew Anderson, who has works available at both venues. “If you want a piece to decorate your office, go to the Spider Gallery. If you are decorating everyone’s office, visit the Spider Gallery Shop.”
The shop is the latest addition to the Cort Mall venues, which also includes the Kawi Cafe and the Cort Spa. The gallery, shop and cafe operate through the Cherokee Arts Center. The Spider Gallery opened in May 2013.
“Since we moved here, I would say we’ve seen at least 200 and maybe 500 percent growth,” said Donna Tinnin, community tourism manager for the Cherokee Nation. “Our annual sales and number of visitors have roughly doubled each year. We also schedule several events and private parties here. It isn’t nearly as quiet as it used to be around here.”
Over at the Kawi Cafe, students of the Cherokee Nation Entrepreneur Program learn the basics of running a small business.
“I’m enjoying the program,” said Rick Hornett, a trainee. “It’s a lot of fun and I’m gaining new skills I’ve never learned before. I haven’t decided yet what business I want to go into after the program, but I know I’ll apply what I’ve learned here.”
The primary mission of the Spider Gallery is to feature the works of Cherokee artists.
“It promotes the Cherokee arts, and gives the artists a permanent display location for visitors and buyers,” Tinnin said. “Before this gallery opened, there was a small gallery in the Cherokee Arts Center, but there really wasn’t anyplace where Cherokee artists could display their works year-round.”
The installment of Cherokee art venues in the Cort Mall resuscitated a building that was standing idle.
“It was closed for a long time,” Tinnin said. “The Cherokee Nation bought it and renovated it. The facade was redone. We had always wanted to move the little gallery onto Muskogee Avenue to give it more foot traffic and exposure.”
Reopening the mall and displaying art has also enhanced the atmosphere of south downtown.
“That was something we wanted to do - to help the ‘cool’ factor on the south end,” Tinnin said. “One of the goals is to spur growth for other businesses. We want to help the economic development of this end of town.”