The has long been a local art establishment in the Marietta community, opening its doors in 1982. Shae Avery, and his wife Gwenda, decided to take the plunge of business ownership after years of developing his craft in artistry. After a couple of relocations in Marietta he settled into a building that has served the community for nearly three decades.
“I always learned to like where I am; there are good experiences all around you–you just have to open your eyes to them,” Avery says of his ability to adapt to his surroundings like a clever chameleon.
Avery, born in Tuxedo, N.Y., never laid an early claim to staking a future in the arts. Though he says his parents appreciated artwork, displaying it in their home, he was never moved to express himself creatively.
In one particular instance, Avery recalls a time in junior high when he did make an effort to create an original work of art, an attempt treated with disdain by his teacher. Avery admits his creative aspirations were squashed, but it didn’t sideline his interest in the arts.
As time went on, what Avery eventually discovered that he had an eye for detail, which would later play well in identifying quality art. While attending Kenyon College of Ohio, he joined the ROTC where he learned skills of discipline and self awareness, giving him the confidence to venture out beyond his comfort boundaries.
Avery went west, settling in the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State where he worked as a logger, fueling his love for the outdoors. He cites a time when he and his logging pals would fish salmon in the open waters. Inevitably this led to his membership with organizations such as the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy and the Wilderness Society to name a few.
Later, Avery left for British Columbia where he became a hand on a cattle ranch. There, he would continue his work in nature, embracing the outdoors and even hockey. He says the best part of living there was having the time to fish and canoe on the Nechako River.
One day, he received a draft notice for the Vietnam War; however, living in Canada at the time he would be seen as a draft dodger. So, Avery decided to come back into the states to serve his country by enlisting in the Air Force. He was fortunate enough to serve stateside as a Link instrument instructor but remembers the loss of a few of his students who did not come back from the war.
While stationed at Craig AFB in Selma, Ala., Avery remembers a vivid account of visiting local night clubs, then called juke joints, and enjoying himself.
“I remember the night before [King’s march on Selma], we went downtown to the local night clubs, and they welcomed us with open arms,” Avery says of his experience as a military NCO (noncommissioned officer) who was able to mingle with the town’s black people during a racially tense time in the country’s history. “We went to three night spots and heard some really good music, we had a good time.”
Avery stayed in Selma after his four-year enlistment was over, where he worked at the airport which he later managed and provided flying lessons. Then, one day he was lured away by a trucking company looking to establish 18-wheeler truck maintenance shops throughout the Southeast.
While out on a run in Roanoke, Va., Avery saw the painting that would change the rest of his life.
He recalls slamming on his brakes and “nearly had a wreck.” Placing the truck in reverse, Avery rushed in to buy the James Vance Miller painting–a breathtaking depiction of a winter scene with a small pathway squeezed between two snow-capped boulders. The art moved him, taking him back to a time in his childhood when he remembers visiting a place with similar features.
Avery was moved so much so that he left the trucking business altogether almost then and there. Tired of the trucker lifestyle and countless war stories, he was ready for a change. Avery solicited Tom Davis, owner of the White House Gallery where he purchased that first painting, for work.
Davis employed Avery in 1973, where his professional art conservation, framing and restoration career would begin. Davis would not only become Avery’s friend but his mentor teaching him the fundamentals of artistry and the trade of dealing art. Avery says the 1970s was a decade dedicated to learning the craft of the trade with how the work was done, specific forms, formats, techniques and more. It was this training that led him to the point of having enough skill, knowledge and contacts to open a gallery of his own.
Today, the Avery Gallery holds a contract with the City of Atlanta for cleaning, conserving and restoring the Atlanta Cyclorama diorama located in Grant Park. The Avery Gallery has conserved and framed works of art from many collections to include the following: Robert P. Coggins Art and Artists of the South, Mr. Fred Bentley, Dr. Noah Meadows, Kennesaw College, Brenau College, Southern Polytechnic State University, Savannah Historic Museum, Coastal Georgia Museum, Marietta Cobb Museum of Art, Marietta Museum of History, Juliette Gordon Low Girl Scout National Center in Savannah Georgia, The Methodist Museum at Epworth by the Sea on St. Simons Island, GA, Jekyll Island Museum, Berry College Museum, Atlanta Historical Society, Atlanta History Center, Norfolk-Southern Railway and many others (provided by the Avery Gallery).
Over the years, the business model of the gallery has shifted a little to survive the weak economy where they now provide the added services of custom framing, restoration of nearly any material, making convex glass and making cabinet doors among others.
With the expansion of the local film community, Avery is participating with a recent contract for restoring more than 400 rolls of 35mm film which he says is a delicate and tedious process.
“Come by and see us,” Avery says as they are participating in the Artist Walk of the Marietta Square, which is the first Friday of each month this summer.
Avery Gallery is located at 390 Roswell St. Call 770-427-2459 or visit www.AveryGallery.com for more information.