Cheryl Carey had been working for the Kouckys since 2003 when they called her from their Florida location and told her to pack everything up and put it on sale as they had decided to close the gallery; the Kouckys - Chuck and Nancy - had grown tired of the trek between their Charlevoix gallery and their Florida gallery every year, and they wanted to concentrate on their Florida location. Cheryl Carey, along with her husband, Mike, whose family are good friends of the Kouckys - then saw an opportunity they couldnt refuse. Yes, Mike Carey confirms, it just seemed like a great opportunity for us to do something we love.
Cheryl and Mike took possession of the Bridge Street gallery in April of 2005 - and spent a month remodeling so that they could open in May. They decided on the name C2 Gallery - which is actually pronounced C Squared Gallery - almost as quickly.
When the husband/wife duo teamed up with friend Amy Cook to make further plans for the gallery space, Cook pointed out that Cheryl Carey frequently signed her name as C2, which she thought would make a great gallery name, and the moniker stuck. Later on, Cook chuckled, we realized that their last name (Carey) and my last name (Cook) would also translate well to C2, as would Charlevoix County.
The Careys and Cook wanted to do something different with the gallery, since it was no longer the Koucky domain. Although they respected the former owners -- and still carry a few of their pieces -- it was time to put the C2 stamp on things.
Our mission has been to concentrate on local artists and eliminate items that are production, like those contracted out to other companies, Cheryl explains, I think that local art is important to the customer, too, because many people ask us if we carry local artists. We have about 150 artists right now, and about half of them are local. Sometimes it can be difficult to find local artists in a certain medium, so we have to look outside the local area too. Art is something that represents something different for every individual. Many people have this misconception that art galleries are supposed to be pretentious, and were trying to change that.
The reception to C2s mission has been a good one. I think our target audience is anyone who loves art, Cook explains, and we really want to get the locals more into art and into having good art in their houses; art is for everyone, not just those who have lots of money. We try to have something that everyone can afford and enjoy.
Charlevoix is really a nice little community, Mike Carey says, a lot of people are very involved with the downtown area and give freely of their time and efforts both in the summer and the winter. We are proud to be part of the chamber and of the community itself, and I think that response has been very favorable.
My favorite part of the gallery are the people that I get to meet and talk to, Mike Carey adds. Sometimes the most interesting people come in the door and we end up having a long conversation; sometimes strangers become friends in the space of 15 minutes.
Some standout artists include Kathleen Chaney-Fritz, whose work is drawing a lot of attention at the gallery.
Most of Kathleens works are of local scenes, and she also does subjects like flowers and wildlife, and she works in various mediums from watercolor to oil, says Cheryl.
Cheryl also favors the gallerys jewelry selection, which is larger than most any other store in Charlevoix, while Mike points out local artist Peggy Midener, who showcases art boxes, and also the talented Marcella of Gossamer Glen, who sculpts amazingly detailed fairies in polymer clay and who is a good friend of the Carey couple.
Another one to mention is Luke Buck. Luke Buck is probably our most famous artist, Cook explains, hes the name people will recognize if they recognize anyone at all. You can find his work in many states, but hes painted locations in Charlevoix and the surrounding area - like the Charlevoix drawbridge, the Horton Bay General Store, and the Cross Fisheries fishing boat - many times. We also have recently acquired some great hand-blown pieces from Jordan Valley Glassworks of East Jordan. Even non-artist celebs like Michael Moore and Tim Allen have stopped in to the location to see what the gallery has to offer, which is growing to be more than just art.
C2 offers other diversions, including their gallery open mic on Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m., an event that is growing in popularity. The open mic is open to any and all musicians, as long as they can play acoustically - Mike and Cheryl Carey and Amy Cook are all musicians as well as art aficionados, so they enjoy playing along with whomever shows up. The event was initially started to draw more interest to the gallery during the slower seasons, but it has grown into an open jam session full of a variety of instruments and performers, and is proving to be great fun.
Mehndi Art (temporary henna body art from East India) was available at the gallery on selected weekends last summer, and will likely be back next season. Addiitionally, many artist receptions have been held; movie nights and a henna party are being discussed for this winter; and the gallery has also held such workshops as Make Your Own Mardi Gras Mask (proceeds of which benefitted Hurricane Katrina victims) in order to keep things interesting - although its hard to see how C2 Gallery could be anything but.
C2 Gallery is located at 327 Bridge Street in downtown Charlevoix, and is currently scheduled to be open from 10 am-5:30 pm Mon-Thurs, 10 am-7 pm Fri-Sat, and 11 am-4 pm Sundays; hours may change seasonally, please call the gallery at 231-547-2228 if you have any questions.