At the Green Drake Gallery and Arts Center, you can indulge your inner Miles Davis and buy a painting of him.
On March 11, the Millheim gallery is starting monthly jazz workshops. Led by local trombonist and composer Jay Vonada, the sessions every second Monday of the month aim to help musicians hone their chops.
The workshops are part of the Green Drakes mission to expand beyond showcasing local artists such as gallery co-owner Karl Eric Leitzel, whose impressionistic paintings include a series of musician portraits.
Located at 101-B W. Main St., in an 1885 building that formerly housed a hardware store, the gallery has become both a diverse emporium and a community arts space.
Across worn floorboards, beneath a high pressed tin ceiling, the gallery displays a wide selection of locally-made paintings, jewelry, sculpture and fine crafts including funky cigar box diddley bow instruments. This month continues an exhibit of internationally-known photographer Stephen Althouses work.
A small stage serves receptions, open mic nights, old-time music jams and cultural events, such as recently-started poetry/prose readings every fourth Friday of the month.
Toward the back, the gallery has set up a cozy nook for browsing the array of books from local authors or about local subjects. Two easy chairs flank a CD player for listening to albums from local musicians and bands.
Upstairs, a smaller room displays more paintings from Leitzel and Elody Gyekis, who along with Dana Morrison are among the several resident artists who work out of studios on the top floor. Visitors are free to poke their heads in for a look.
Also on the floor, the gallery maintains a large community room. A $100 annual fee buys the combination to a locked separate entrance. Artists and anyone else seeking a quiet space for creation or just contemplation can come and go as they please.
We basically feel that any cultural pursuits that are legal are fine, Leitzel said.
He and co-owner Gary Gyekis, who did much of the renovations downstairs before the for-profit, limited partnership business opened in 2011, hope to create an artistic hub for the region.
We want to be a place thats of value, to bring more art and art opportunities to a rural community that might not have them otherwise, Leitzel said.
He sees the gallery sitting in an advantageous position: between the university towns of State College and Lewisburg, and in the middle of a bucolic valley full of artists.
Millheim is starting to become a focal point for that community, and a way to share it with the rest of the world, Leitzel said.
The gallery has contributed to downtown Millheims renaissance, joining the Elk Creek Cafe across the street, the IngleBean Coffee House and other newcomers in attracting visitors like a recent group of senior citizens.
They watched a demonstration painting at the gallery, then walked down the street to the coffee house.
They had a great time, Leitzel said. They really enjoyed the experience. Were looking for more opportunities like that.
The Green Drake Gallery and Arts Center is open noon to 8 p.m. Thursday, noon to 9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, or by appointment by calling 349-2486. For more information, visit www.greendrakeart.com.
By Chris Rosenblum