Only a few hours after the Montgomery Art Association opened the doors on its new gallery space in Westfield Wheaton on Friday, artist Julie Smith sold her first painting.
"It's a good omen," said Smith, an MAA member from Olney. "I hope we're here for a while."
MAA left the mall in April after Westfield Wheaton determined that it wanted the space to be available for businesses attracted by the incoming Costco, whose scheduled Oct. 18 opening has been delayed.
But now Westfield Wheaton has arranged for MAA to return on an indefinite lease, in a prime spot on the lower level across from DSW Shoes and
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Westfield Wheaton's marketing director Sidney Woods calls his relationship with MAA "a great partnership," and MAA president Cathy Hirsh has nothing but praise for Westfield management.
"They've been tremendously supportive of the gallery," Hirsh said.
The new gallery is three times as large as the old one, and MAA members only needed a few days to move in the artwork to the finished space, in contrast with the weeks of cleaning and painting required before, when MAA came to the mall in December 2010.
Westfield Wheaton provided soft seating for the gallery, and MAA bought new furnishings, such as tables and shelves.
"We wanted to do the space credit," Hirsh said.
Hirsh also said there are plans to place a painting station in a front corner of the gallery, by the window, with a studio easel for MAA members to use.
Opening celebration receptions with artists in attendance will be held on Oct. 25, 26, and 27 from 5-7 p.m. and on Oct. 28 from 1-5 p.m.
The gallery is open Monday through Saturday from 12 - 8 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. The current show will run through Dec. 2, 2012.