"At first it was a wall-cleaning business," says Dick Guiry, president of the company and grandson of founder Joseph Guiry. "Then they got into selling mirrors and wallpaper and other decorating items." In the 1920s, Guiry's carried out decorative painting schemes; one of the best examples are the stenciled motifs still seen throughout the Mayan Theatre.
Dick's father and uncle took over the business just after World War II, and Dick joined the firm in the early 1960s. At the time, young Dick had little interest in following in his father's footsteps, but that changed in1962, when his father died. "The business was my dad's whole life, and I just didn't have the heart to let it go," he says. Now Guiry's has six retail stores specializing in housepaint, commercial painting equipment and fine-art materials, and Dick has been joined by his sons, Pat and Sean.
Dick credits Pat with finding Guiry's Ballpark location and with the idea to include an in-store gallery there, tentatively dubbed The Gallery @ Guiry's. But unlike other sideline galleries, such as those found in coffee shops, Guiry's has made a real commitment to theirs, with a beautiful space dedicated exclusively to art exhibits and including the expected spotlights. Best of all, there's an ambitious young gallery director, Jason Thomas, who's filled with exciting ideas.
"I'd love to make it a straight-up contemporary gallery," Thomas says in his thick North Carolina drawl before reeling off a list of artists he'd like to show.
The premiere exhibit lives up to his goals. Borderlands, which stays up through November 30, features the inventive work of Mai Wyn Schantz, an emerging artist. Schantz paints dreamy water scenes in oil on aluminum sheets, allowing the bare metal to show along the edges. The dull sheen of the exposed aluminum is the perfect corollary to the light reflected on the painted water, as in "8.24.98" (above).
Guiry's move into the gallery world is a welcome one, especially with Thomas at the helm.