Meraki started as a pretty simple idea: to provide quality art products to the vastness of the art community we have here in Goshen.
You only get one or two brands of canvas at the retail outlets available now, and neither of those is acceptable to use in a gallery setting. So every time you want to get those quality products, you are driving to Ann Arbor and Chicago, and their shipping cost for art supplies are insane.
Late last year, my mom passed away, so I put the whole project on hold to deal with that. It was traumatic. And when I came back to Goshen, I had my eyes set on a very specific store. There are a lot of Goshen College students who can’t drive, so I needed a location downtown. And I wanted to be on Main Street, and with enough space to carry the products we wanted to carry and with the opportunity to expand.
I hadn’t talked to him in five months, but Dave Pottinger contacted me and said the space I was interested in was available. So I called Dora, freaking out. She’d done taxes in the past, and I hate math!
I took a while thinking about it — and that freaked Alex out even more, I think! — but bringing the joy of art to our community has always been something I’ve been passionate about. I couldn’t stop dreaming about it, so I said absolutely, let’s do it. And every time we had a roadblock or had a panic attack, we’d talk ourselves down.
The reception has been really good. We’ve had people from South Bend, Elkhart, Fort Wayne — anyone who’s heard about us has been really excited.
What I would like to do is focus on the gallery and promoting local artists. I’m able to appraise art, and I’m pretty good with artists, so our idea going forward is that we could help artists place their work in galleries across the country. We’re already making a connection with a curator in Fort Wayne.
We’re also hoping to launch our complete online store by November 1 — both our art supplies and artwork — and that we’re able to hit that Christmas season so that people can send gifts to grandma and grandpa.
And we have events in the gallery, too. In December we’ll be hosting our gallery exhibit, “The Unheard.” The name is definitely inspired from the voices that haven’t been heard over the years.
Each artist is choosing a nonprofit and a theme, and creating five to six pieces. A portion of the proceeds from any artwork sold [will benefit artists’ designated charities].
I think it’s sometimes hard to live in a small community in that you aren’t connected to all of these problems happening in the bigger world. We are so grateful to have the community of Goshen, the safety of Goshen, but sometimes the only way you can express those emotions properly is through your artwork.
— Alex Elder and Dora Mills, managing partners, Meraki Art Company
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Goshen is the greenest. Read more stories about our community's commitment to sustainability -- in principle and in practice -- here.
Written and edited by Wendy Wilson
Original publish date April 2022
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