This piece is part of a series of articles submitted to The Local Tourist through a cooperation with a 400-level travel writing class at Purdue University.
By Ranxin Quan
I found this gallery shop by accident on my way to eat ramen. I strolled along Main Street in downtown Lafayette with my friend after 5 p.m. and most stores were closed except for one: Artists’ Own.
Inside, a gallery exhibited pottery, oil paintings, and adorable glass Christmas tree ornaments in the window. We were not very hungry at that time, so we decided to stop in.
Artists’ Own opened in 2000. Back then, several local artists came up with an idea of creating a unique shop to share and display their own artwork to the community.
Due to its popularity, the gallery and shop expanded three times during the past 20 years, and there are now 18 co-owners.
That means that every time you come to Artists’ Own, you will likely meet different talented artists because each owner only needs to work 18 days in a year.
We first made our way down the left side of the gallery. The sleek gray walls and light music made me unconsciously slow my pace.
The left space looks like a gallery because there are many large pieces of artwork, such as pottery, oil paintings, and wood carvings. Most paintings and photographs are hanging on the wall, and works with similar themes are displayed together.
Objects such as baskets or pottery pieces were placed on display stands in various locations. Ample space between displays allowed me time to switch “themes” along with the art.
It also had a spacious area in the center of the gallery space. I guessed the reason for the space is that the owners wanted their customers to enjoy these artworks from different distances.
Related: Find more things to do in Lafayette Indiana
I really liked a set of photos of different gates in Europe. The first wooden gate is a passageway on Trapani. The rotten, wooded surface made me imagine it would be squeaky if someone touched it.
This antique gate looked like a wordless elder who had observed different people coming and going for hundreds of years but never shared the wisdom he held.
There was another painting titled “The Standoff” that caught my attention. LaDonna Vohar, the artist, told me it was actually her legs and her ex-boyfriend’s legs.
She named this painting “The Standoff” because the fun thing was that many people had different ideas about what was going on in this painting. For me, it looked like a husband was admitting his mistakes in front of his wife.
The right of this store looks more like an art shop, with many small pieces that people can buy as gifts, such as jewelry, pottery, glass, and clothes.
I was drawn to the Asian-style pottery, especially a piece with several cups and three feet as stems. This piece was similar to the tripod the ancient Chinese used as wine vessels.
Artists here also design and make clothes. The colorful fabrics came from India, Japan, and other parts of the world, and the artists stitched these fabrics to make dresses, vests and other garments. These were easily differentiated from American styles I see in many clothing stores.
In one of several showcases, I noticed a piece of very Asian-style jewelry, which reminded me of what I did in my art class when I was in elementary school.
Cherry Delaney, one of the co-owners, shared with me that Kumihimo was a Japanese braiding technique using beads to make different patterns. She said she learned this braiding art and got ideas by watching YouTube videos and joining some Facebook Kumihimo groups.
She also told me that her husband recently helped her with making Kumihimo jewelry. “I don’t always like his choices. So there was one last year he did, one I said um…And it sold immediately, so I was like ‘okay you can choose, and you can design,’” Delaney said.
She told me that she enjoyed the experience of visiting Japan in order to get some ideas from Japanese culture.
“It’s not just the craft that you learned, it’s also the character of people that is slower paced, the quality and integrity that we tend not to see here, so that’s the part that when I wanna rush things, and I think ‘no, not, slow down. Put the integrity in it,” Delaney said.
We finally ended our tour in this unique gallery shop. I enjoyed not only the interesting artwork but also the chance to hear personally from the artists themselves about their work.
On our way to eat ramen, I was happy I had found another reason to go to downtown Lafayette.
Artists’ Own is located at 518 Main St, Lafayette, IN. 765- 429-4478. You can also check their website for more information: www.artists-own.com