malvern getting art gallery with an edge to its voice….

bridge in Chester County by Averil Smith Barone

So… There is a gallery to open in Malvern…They are touting being sandwiched between those East Side Flats buildings under construction. I think East Side Flats are way too big for Malvern which like it or not is a village smaller than even Narberth and the development is seriously lacking human scale and style, but will be glad to see an art gallery. Art is good for a community.

“Remains of the Day”

However, I do not like the almost negative commentary about Chester County barns and covered bridges- as a photographer they are not only among my favorite things to photograph, they are part and parcel of what makes Chester County so special. I know that this particular commentary shouldn’t be sourced to the writer of the article in the paper as originating this PR spin, so I would caution the new gallery owners, who themselves are artists to have a care about what I feel are borderline pejorative comments about the art historically and dare I say traditionally known in Chester County.

One of my own Chester County inspired still lives taken at a Goshenville Historic Day in East Goshen. I reproduced the photo on canvas, framed it, and ironically it sold out of a Main Line gallery and now sits on someone’s wall.

Long before I moved to Chester County I frequented art shows like the fabulous annual affair in Historic Yellow Springs. I also have a friend named Averil (an artist herself) whose late mother was a Chester County artist named Valerie Lamb Smith. I will never forget visiting Averil’s parents’ house for the first time (smack in the middle of Chester County horse country way before it was trendy) and seeing her mother’s art hanging in a farmhouse outbuilding that served as an art studio. Averil’s mom had work strung on lines and they were wafting in a breeze. It was such a thing of beauty I remember it still in my mind’s eye to this day. It was her mother’s work that truly made me begin to love and appreciate the Chester County school as an adult.

The Chester County “school” of art and artists is a very real and beautiful thing, so if these gallery owners want to open something edgy and different that is their right, but they should refrain from knocking a style of art a lot of us old and new to Chester County love. And to quip that modern art looks good in Main Line homes makes them sound like interior decorators not artists or art curators. And maybe it is just me, but I hate people who refer to Philadelphia as “Philly” . Philly is a cheesesteak, Philadelphia is the city. As to who will live in the behemoth of Malvern known as East Side Flats, only time will tell.

Another one of my barn photos- it is no great secret that in addition to the beauty of Chester County itself as inspiration, the plein air and traditional styles of the Chester County school has inspired my own photography- the magic of ordinary days

Do I believe that homes should have a mix of art? Absolutely. But to give an interview that is pretentious and by interpretation knocks the art Chester County is know for is just bad form. Loving particular forms of art is entirely subjective and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I have photographed a lot of art over the past few years for First Friday Main Line as well as publicized it as part of the publicity for this non-profit’s events. But never in a million years would I ever dream of publicizing one kind of art or artist or art discipline at the expense of the other. It is a big world and there is room for many different styles and forms of art. So JAM Gallery, welcome and best of luck as new kid on the proverbial Chester County block, but please, show a little respect for the plein air and other styles that have made Chester County their home before you. Also interested to hear that Malvern still has First Fridays- hadn’t heard about that in a LONG time.

Introducing JAM Gallery, where contemporary art meets Victorian Malvern By Caroline O’Halloran

Poised to open this fall, Malvern’s mammoth Eastside Flats has long been the talk of the town…. JAM Gallery will open Saturday, Aug. 10, and, like its towering neighbors still under construction, it’s a decidedly 21st-century addition to the quaint Victorian borough. You won’t find the usual Chester County barns or covered bridges displayed on JAM’s walls. Instead, look for paintings and sculpture that are edgy and imaginative, some even avant-garde by Main Line standards…….The backyard is adjacent to the outdoor area that Eastside Flats plans to use for “Second Saturday” gatherings showcasing local merchants. JAM is a three-way family venture, with Melanie overseeing the art, her husband Jerry, a retired pharmaceutical executive and eager oenophile and cook, bartending and making hors d’oeuvres for gallery parties, and son Adam handling the books. Co-curator with Fisher will be Lynnette Shelley, an artist of similar stylized bent, who moonlights as the lead singer in the experimental “avant rock” band, Red Masque, she founded with her husband….In the walk-to-train apartment-retail complex Eastside Flats, the two see an opportunity. “It’s short-sighted to think, ‘This is the Malvern, you can only have plein air landscapes on your living-room wall,’” says Shelley…..Modern art, she adds, looks fantastic in traditional Main Line homes.

My tip to people looking to add life to their homes with art? It doesn’t have to be expensive, it doesn’t have to be pretentious. It should be something that moves you – something you enjoy . It can be as simple as a flea market or barn picking find. Or something found at Resellers Consignment in Frazer, or something from your childhood home or grandmother’s attic or from Clover Market in Ardmore (they have had some great artists affordable to buy from since the market’s inception).

Buy the art that you love. Leave the need to impress to others.

I still think this gallery is worth checking out. JAM Gallery will be opening at 321 E. King Street, Malvern. 484-433-3571. Find them on the web at The public is invited to attend the opening reception, 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 10 as per Main Line Media News.

4 thoughts on “malvern getting art gallery with an edge to its voice….

  1. Hi! Thanks for saying a nice word for the Yellow Springs Art Show! As chair for the past five years it had been such a great labor if love for me and my committee and I so appreciate the kind thoughts! Regards…Maureen Fendrick

    PS. You will always find barns, cows, pigs, horses and the entire farm on our walls!

    • The art show is one of my favorite things about the village- And one reason I go is because it features artists from the Chester County – the art is amazing

  2. HI, this is Lynnette Shelley from JAM Gallery. Thanks for mentioning about the gallery, but I just wanted to let you know, as in many news stories, our full quotes were not used. Both Melanie and I said that Chester County is known for plein air painting and barns and landscape scenes etc, and that “NOT That there is anything wrong with those traditions” but that there was room for all types of art in the area. So what we’re saying is that we welcome diversity of art at the gallery. FWIW, two of the artists in the first show do plein air paintings and landscapes (though in a more expressionistic style perhaps) and several others have participated in some of the great shows in the area like Yellow Springs, Immaculata / Malvern Retreat House art show, Daylesford Abbey Art Show etc. I know some of the initial visitors to the gallery were glad to see a gallery that offered some works that you might not typically see in the local art venues for whatever reason. Hope that clears things up and I hope you come out and visit us 🙂

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