There is one question that Lynda Strauch, owner of The Wit Gallery in Lenox, Massachusetts, gets asked more than any other lately… Will she continue the gallery’s Art of Giving program this year. Since 2010, The Art of Giving has been an annual event; a charity drive put on during the winter months, where each purchase in the gallery allows for a donation to be made to a charity in the collector’s name.
The endeavor is a testament to what people can accomplish together during hard times. Over the years, art sales during January and February have brought in thousands of dollars in donations to dozens of charitable organizations like Habitat for Humanity and local Food Banks. This program has allowed the gallery, artist and collector to work together toward a common goal in bringing help and hope to those who need it. The artist chooses the charity that is close to his/her heart and allows the part of the percentage of the sale to be donated. The gallery shares the percentage with the artist; The collector has helped a good cause while purchasing artwork that he/she loves, and can claim a tax deduction.
Within the “Art of Giving” the opportunity is presented for the beauty of Art to be joined with the beauty of Spirit. May living with one of these pieces of Art remind you of the gift you made possible; donated to support and lift another in need. A win, win, win, win. The patron, the recipient, The Wit Gallery, the artist; all hearts are warmed. Thank you!!
~Lynn Latimer, artist & participant in “The Art of Giving” since its inception
Located in Lenox, Massachusetts, in the heart of the Berkshire Hills which is an area rich in cultural and historic treasures, The Wit Gallery is a leading venue for contemporary art. An acronym for “Wonders in Time”, The Wit Gallery shows a diverse range of creative talent from both established and emerging artists. The work features various media, including paintings, glass, works on paper, photography, as well as indoor and outdoor sculpture. The mission of the gallery is to delight its customers with selections of art imbued with light-heartedness and rigorous technical skill that is cutting edge and accessible for both the new and seasoned collector.
Hope is an enduring theme for The Wit Gallery. Almost from its inception in 1999, the ups and downs of one financial crisis after another were cause for reassessment of how to run the gallery. After the terrorist attacks on September 11th, the gallery closed for ten days out of respect for the dead and grieving. During those ten days, people flocked to the Berkshires from New York city and the surrounding areas to be in a safe environment amongst the beauty of nature. Lynda found that opening the gallery at that moment was more than a necessary business decision; it was a move toward hope. People visiting the gallery were able to let go of some of their anxiety and pain while contemplating the beautiful pieces on display.
In the years after the terrorist attacks, the housing market had rebounded. Many people had purchased their first homes or moved permanently into their “summer” house and there was a building boom. The financial crisis in 2008 brought all of this to a crashing halt. People lost their investments and their homes. Collectors were trying to sell back their artwork. The gallery was in the red, and a major restructuring had to happen. Rather than close, Lynda found a silent partner and hired a new director to help devise a plan to keep the doors open. This plan involved a partnership with the gallery’s artists that required monthly “investments” (rent) to be paid, resulting in a larger share of the payout when work sold. It also included carrying new products that were smaller and less expensive such as jewelry and small paintings, as well as careful budgeting, new marketing outlets and the launching of “The Art of Giving” which drove sales and resulted in donations to charities all across the United States. A new sign went up on the door of the gallery that read, “Buying or Browsing you are always welcomed” so even the art lover with little funds would know they were welcomed and appreciated.
The gallery pulled through along with the economy and a new building boom began, resulting in people needing artwork to fill their new homes. The team at the Wit Gallery restructured again, but this time to respond to the stronger economy. Even so, a business owner should know that an economic downturn can happen at any time, and in the back of her mind, Lynda was wondering how the next one would play out.
Now, in 2020, the economy is facing its hardest struggle in the gallery’s history. The strategy this time around is to make the gallery more virtual, so clients can shop online in order to feel safe, along with a strong marketing push. The physical gallery remains open to the public, with all the Covid-19 safeguards in place, so that anyone can visit, take in the art, shop, and get away from their worries for a minute in a safe environment.
Every year as the season begins, many people come into the gallery and excitedly tell me that they are so happy to be back in the Berkshires and to be back at the gallery. Many of them tell me that they stop in to see what’s new here at The Wit Gallery even before they’ve stopped in at their house or hotel; that they’ve come here to start off their summer on the right foot! It’s an amazing feeling to know that the art that we show can bring such joy to our visitors, even if they are here only to browse. It makes me feel hopeful, for our gallery, for our artists and for society in general, when an object that has been created with care and expertise can make such a difference in a person’s life, if even for the duration of a short gallery visit.
~Monika Pizzichemi, Director, The Wit Gallery
The Wit Gallery staff believe that this year, the “Art of Giving” is more important than ever, with the need for food security so abundant, everywhere.
Our HOPE as the year 2020 closes, that this trying and sad time will give the world the opportunity to “see more clearly, love more dearly”, (Godspell). We HOPE that the gallery will be able to give more to the Art of Giving than ever before.
~Lynda Strauch, owner and founder, The Wit Gallery