Downtown Tyler is slowly starting to reinvent itself as an arts and music district. One example of this is the newly built Gallery Main Street.

“This gallery was a collaborative effort between the Tyler Main Street Department and Heart of Tyler, Inc.,” said Beverly Abell, director of the Tyler Main Street Department.

The gallery opened on Aug. 29, 2009, and since then has had four successful shows. These shows feature the artwork of local artists whose work has been selected by a jury made up of artists from different mediums such as ceramics and acrylic painting.

“When I judge, I look for demonstrated mastery of materials and originality in subject matter,” said Chris Stewart, a member of the jury panel and department chair of the Art Department at TJC.

“We also look for a variety of pieces that are interesting and go together. With the level of artists, it made it easy to pick the pieces,” said Stewart.

The current exhibit theme is “Melting Pot: Crossing Cultural Divides” and features artwork by many local artists in such mediums as bronzes, paintings and ceramics and display different aspects of culture such as an Indian chief or a street in Haiti. This exhibit will run from Feb. 18 to Mar. 27.

“Seeing my piece on display gave me a great deal of joy,” said Joan Iverson, whose ceramic piece is featured in the current exhibit.

Iverson is also chairman of the Artwalk, where artists display their work to be judged, admired and bought over the course of one evening. Several businesses around the square stay open late and allow the different artists to set up their work.

The Artwalk will be held on March 18 from 4-8 p.m. around the square in Downtown Tyler.

“This year, the Artwalk has gotten bigger and the number of artists continue to grow,” said Iverson.

Gallery Main Street is also looking to expand their programming. “In addition to the arts group, we have also added a film and theater group and are looking to expand to a dance group as well,” Abell said.

“We are also offering art instruction in conference rooms at the gallery,” said Abell.

With the opening of Gallery Main Street, many artists are excited about the future.

“There are many artists worthy of more exposure and this gallery will give them an opportunity to show their work,” said Stewart. Gallery Main Street is located at 110 W. Erwin in downtown Tyler. They are open Monday through Wednesday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday and Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The gallery is free to all visitors. For more information about entering artwork in for consideration for exhibition or the Tyler Artwalk, go to www.downtowntylerarts.com

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