- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

If there was ever a time for a gentle re-opening, it should be spring.

JeanFrancisOSThe Grey Gallery in downtown Owen Sound is one of those businesses opening today for the first time since March, but like the buds on the trees – there have been lots of hints of what was to come.

Owners Anne Dondertman and John Laughlin are investing in Owen Sound's downtown in every way – as business and property owners and as residents.  We consider ourselves very privileged to be part of Owen Sound's downtown, with creative people like these collaborating to make the streetscape ever more vibrant and beautiful.

The heritage building at 883 2nd Avenue East, formerly home to Coates and Best, one of Owen Sound's oldest businesses, has been getting some much needed restoration over the past year, and the scaffolding comes off  the finished front cornices next week. The south face of the building was once attached to the popular Scopis Restaurant that was destroyed in a fire in 1993. Now that it is reinforced and restored into a blank canvas, the Grey Gallery has commissioned Raquell Yang to create a mural as one element in an evolving garden in the adjacent lot.

A “gardener with no place to garden”, Dondertman has collaborated with landscaper Thomas Dean on the design for the Scopis lot. Dean worked with community members to create the designs for the labyrinth and CMHA food forest in St. George's park, and the Giche Namewikwedong Reconciliation Garden at Kelso Beach, and is enthusiastic about this downtown project.

The lot had become a thoroughfare between 2nd Avenue and the parking lots to the east, and an eyesore where the owners were gardenboxconstantly picking up trash between their flower boxes. There will soon be an attractive wooden fence with planting on the 2nd Avenue side of the garden and at the back of the gallery, and already there are six large veggie garden boxes tended by downtown women. The plan is to add more boxes for downtown community gardening, and the “pre-consultation process” has begun with the City to add a safe shed for shared tools.

Eventually, Dondertman would also like to use part of the space for an ornamental and sculpture garden which they would operate in connection with the gallery, open to the public during gallery hours.

The Grey Gallery is gently re-opening today, May 20. As I See It , an exhibition of large scale paintings of Owen Sound by Jean Francis was scheduled to open March 18 and today it will get its first public visitors. 

More information about the Grey Gallery is on their Facebook page and website.






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