The grand opening for Kelly Fitzpatrick Memorial Gallery's new home at 124 Company Street in downtown Wetumpka is set for Friday, May 21, at noon. A reception, which will include special presentations, is set to follow that evening from 4-6 p.m. The public is invited to attend both events.
"Somebody pinch me -- I can't believe it's real," said Belyn Richardson, president of The Kelly, as she spoke about the upcoming opening.
Richardson the opening of the gallery wouldn't have been possible without board member Wayne Turner who supervised the renovation project, interior designers Lucie Wadsworth and Beth Coleman, Justin Edwards who helped the board navigate the legal process behind opening the gallery, Pete Powers Construction for renovating the space and Lowes and Russell Do It Center for donating supplies for the remodel.
"I also want to thank all of our sponsors and anyone who has helped us along the way," Richardson said.
The purchase of the 1,800-square-foot building was made possible through a $100,000 grant from the Alabama Power Foundation. The renovations are being funded through a $20,594 donation from Wetumpka’s Wind Creek Casino and roughly $35,000 in funding from the federal government. The gallery intends to complete the project without accruing any debt. Renovations to the building began in October 2020.
For The Kelly, the road to ownership has been a long one. In January 2019, The Kelly was displaced by the tornado that swept through Wetumpka. The gallery vacated its then-residence in the city of Wetumpka's administration, and for all of 2019, the gallery’s belongings were in storage. In February 2020, the gallery began renting its current East Bridge Street location, which is owned by the Wetumpka Area Chamber of Commerce. A month later, COVID-19 forced the gallery to temporarily shut down. The Kelly has been in search of a place to call home since the tornado struck.
The mission of The Kelly is to build community by engaging, inspiring and educating artists, students and the public. The gallery promotes local and regional visual art through exhibition, collection, recognition and documentation of relevant works, and by exhibiting original artwork, the story behind the artist and work, and promoting local tourism and inspiring creative industry by rotating showings. There’s also a permanent collection of J. Kelly Fitzpatrick artwork and other selections.
Richardson said The Kelly is also looking for people who would be willing to volunteer their time during the day to help keep the gallery open as much as possible. Those interested can contact Richardson at Belyn.firstname.lastname@example.org.