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Artisans' gallery opens in Talent

Retail crafts, furniture store fulfills dream of co-owner Kevin Heidrick

TALENT -- Nestled in a strip of Highway 99 known more for its used-car deals than for artistic enterprise, Kevin Heidrick is attempting to craft a different type of business.

Along with business partner Cindy Kelly, he's opened Greybeard Gallery, an artisans' gallery of functional art and furnishings at 1027 S. Pacific Highway.

Some people come and say, `What are you doing there? You don't repair cars,' he said.

But Heidrick is optimistic that Talent and the valley are ready for his vision. That vision includes offering customers a combination of art and function while providing an outlet for local artisans to show their work year-round.

There's got to be someplace for people who don't do canvases to display their work, he said.

Heidrick now has the work of 23 artists on display, including his own wood furniture, lamps and frames.

Coincidentally, eight of the 23 artisans sport gray beards, as does Heidrick. But he says it isn't a condition for getting into Greybeard Gallery. He hasn't turned anyone away yet, including several women artists who would have a hard time fitting the bill.

Without a high overhead (Heidrick also lives and works on the property) the gallery is able to take less commission from the artisans than do many others.

From the outside, the gallery looks much like some of the antique shops that mingle among the auto wreckers and landscaping supply companies. On the inside, the somewhat austere space is adorned with a wide variety of functional craft items.

Golf putters, wine dispensers, painted furniture, outdoor furniture, furniture crafted from found wood, jewelry, ceramics and quilts line the gallery's two rooms and spill out onto the front porch.

It took a lot of work to get the building into this condition. Most recently it was a ceramics studio, before that a furniture store, and Heidrick completely remodeled the space.

During the renovation, Heidrick found evidence of the building's previous incarnations -- a blacksmith's shop and Ashland General Wood Products. The gallery combines a taste of many of the former businesses -- furniture, metal, ceramics and wood.

Maybe we've come full circle, said Heidrick.

Heidrick has lived in the Rogue Valley for the past 15 years, doing woodworking, cabinetry and trimming. The gallery is a dream Heidrick has had since he moved here.

Although he's been making a living with his skills, he says he prefers the creativity of the work he does now. Crafts and wood projects have always been a part of his life. His father always had a project going on his workbench, and Heidrick remembers helping his mother quilt.

The biggest influence on my life is that my parents blessed me with American Bricks, Lincoln Logs and an Erector set, he said.

Not a carpenter by trade, Heidrick got his start in interior design and furniture sales. After a while I realized I wanted to be building it rather than just selling it, he said.

Now Heidrick hopes he can do a little of both -- build and sell. And while the neighborhood may never be compared to Carmel, Greybeard joins a smattering of unique businesses that have found a home along the main thoroughfare between Ashland and Phoenix.

Greybeard Gallery, 1027 S. Pacific Hwy., is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Heidrick can be reached at 535-3494.

Graybeard Gallery co-owner Kevin Heidrick created a birdseye pine frame which holds a crescent-shaped vase. These and other examples of functional art on display at the gallery. - By WENDY SIPOREN