New Brunswick

Handworks Art Gallery closes suddenly, leaving artists scrambling

A Saint John art gallery closed suddenly recently, leaving artists worried about the money and art the gallery owes them.

A Saint John art gallery closed suddenly recently, leaving artists worried about the money and art the gallery owes them.

Handworks Art Gallery offered a place for local artists to sell their work for decades. The consignment-style store has changed owners over the years, and recently changed location.

It closed without notice a couple of weeks ago and artists have struggled to reach the owners.

“It really sent a shockwave through the crafts community as to what's going to happen to the work that they have there,” said Beth Biggs, a jewelry artist.

Beth Biggs doesn't know what the gallery owners have planned. (CBC)

She has pieces inside Handworks, and has been unable to reach the owners to find out what's going on.

“Because I think we're such a small community and we depend on each other so much, I think some communication would have been really helpful,” she said.

Tandi Hooper-Clark founded Handworks and sold it years ago. Artists have reached out to her for answers.

“I couldn’t answer the question, because I didn't really know what was going on, besides rumours. And you can't always trust rumours. But when I heard it closed, it really made me feel very sad,” she said.

“And they don't own the work either, you know? It's the artists' work.”

Jeneca Klausen is a jewelry maker who used to sell at the gallery. Recently, she noticed a shift in the management style, which made her uneasy and she pulled out.

“And then it just closed, all of a sudden. And now I feel so lucky that I did remove my work from there because there is so many people there that still have work in there,” Klausen said.

“No one is saying anything; they haven't contacted anybody.”

The store owners didn't respond to CBC News requests for information. Its Facebook page announced a temporary closure for a reorganization, but that closure was to start this weekend. 

Biggs says she got a call Thursday night from a person who said they were the new owner, and that the store would be re-opening soon.