A native of Lithuania realized her longtime dream by opening a new professional art gallery representing local artists in an industrial park in Crown Point.
Ula Davitt started the Ula Gallery at 1873 E. Summit St. at the corner of Summit Street and Broadway in Crown Point.
"Everything here is raw — straight from artists’ studios," she said. "No mistake that we are in industrial district. You will find sketches, unframed and wet paint artworks. These are not just artists, they are professional artists handpicked by an art agent. Many styles, media, sizes, price points. Firsthand you can see, feel, and taste the vibe from art. Ula Gallery specializes in living artists but you can unexpectedly find modern masters like Dali, Miro, and some rare finds from designers and decorators."
It's one of many commercial art galleries in Northwest Indiana, including Lake Street Gallery and Painted Board Studio in Gary, SideCar, Paul Henry's Art Gallery and White Ripple Gallery & Co. in Hammond, Promise You Art House and One Best Life at Tinker's Attic in Highland, the Fox Gallery in New Chicago, and John Lyon Fine Art Studio in Chesterton. The Region has lost a few art galleries in recent years, including The Steeple Gallery in St. John and the Hammond Arts Center in downtown Hammond.
Many of the Region's galleries draw people through the door with open mics, concerts, yoga and arts classes. Davitt envisions a more traditional gallery like one would find in Chicago.
"True gallery, no classes, no concerts, no mics, just great art, and art shows," she said. "I have a vision to actually sell art. Professional art gallery in Northwest Indiana? Crazy! Double crazy!"
Davitt grew up in a Soviet-style household with no water or bathroom, where her family had to share a kitchen with their neighbors. But she developed a love for the arts after playing the piano for hours a day and went on to art school.
"I always wanted art gallery, but I didn’t dare to dream it," Davitt said. "To live from art? I was taught to play safe. Yet I was burning for big and bold. You know what was my motivation? Anywhere I went, whether Europe, Canada, or the U.S., artists asked 'please help me to sell my art!' So I thought a lot, worked different jobs, tried many things, prayed, worked more and thought again for 20 years. Finally the stars lined up to open my gallery."
She strives to make the gallery accessible and unintimidating to novice art buyers, for instance offering complementary beverages to visitors, $30 posters of modern masters and a unique exchange policy.
"I can teach you how to buy. Actually anyone who has a job can afford a nice artwork," she said. "Don’t buy cheap print at department stores, better to start with poster of $30 or original watercolor for $50. You can exchange it for better, bigger or different. Our collectors can exchange the artworks anytime as long as the artist is living."
Davitt represents about 20 artists, including from Northwest Indiana and Chicago, who work in different styles and sell paintings at different price points.
"The only criteria to be accepted is to meet the highest standards in art," she said. "I want people to discover not obvious, something new for themselves. Honestly the gallery brings new intellectual fun in Northwest Indiana."
Every month the gallery will display a new exhibit. The first show, featuring Robert Brasher's impressionistic works, starts on April 21. A grand opening is planned on June 2.
The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day and by appointment.