Welcome to Gretchen's Gallery at Chautauqua
I knew from early on that I would be a designer one day. My mother recalls that I was designing wallpaper for my friend’s doll houses as a very young child. It was no surprise then that after graduating from Miami University with a degree in Surface Design and Advertising Graphics I did become a wallpaper and fabric designer. I had the good fortune to work for many of the major design houses and traveled extensively. I produced hand painted (and generally in repeat!) designs for manufacturers of sheets and bedding, children’s products, apparel, dinnerware, stationery and home decor. Clients included Save the Children, “Domestications,” Schumacher, Springs Mills, The Bradford Exchange and Hallmark to name just a few.
I had always taken photos to use a reference for design ideas and over time photography became my primary focus. (No pun intended..) My emphasis remained the same as it was in the design world, pattern, color and texture. One client commented, “It is as though she paints with a camera,” and indeed that was how I approached it. I exhibited in numerous shows, won awards and developed a loyal following. Seeing with an “artist’s eye” I tended to photograph the little hidden vignettes, the play of light and shadows or an unexpected pattern in nature. All of my images told stories. Another customer remarked, “Her heartfelt images continue to capture the imagination as she views the world around us in new and unexpected ways, continually chasing the light.” My images are now found in numerous public and private collections.
My summers had been spent in historic Chautauqua New York where I was a fourth generation Chautauquan, my great grandfather, Henry Turner Bailey, (the first Dean of the Cleveland School of Art) having designed Chautauqua’s iconic Arts and Crafts Quadrangle, still in use today. My dream was to open a Gallery there and when the opportunity presented itself I did not hesitate to grab it. Ironically my grandmother had operated her own shop, H.M. Bailey Handicraft Giftshop in the same location exactly sixty years earlier.... Karma.
The working name of “Gretchen’s Gallery” stuck and the Gallery first opened in 2010. It has morphed over time from presenting my work on canvas, prints and fabric to also exhibiting the works of over fifty regional artists working in all mediums including ceramics, painting, jewelry and handcrafted wood and glass items. A love for antiques and unique vintage items has expanded the Gallery as well.
My business partner, Ruth Ann Raines and I scour the markets for one of a kind rare items whether they be a Mid Century Modern rocker, a steampunk paperweight or a Roycroft vase, every item is individually handpicked and it is truly a treasure hunt for our customers, hence our tagline, “Expect the Unexpected!”