It was so good to see you for tea that day and catch up a little with each other. Connecting with you is always a joy for me. Now your store is turning fifty – and I’m going to write a little about it.
Will and I remember vividly the first time we met you and Isaiah at the grand opening of Eyes Gallery. There on faded, emptied South Street in the fall of 1968 was a fresh spot of light! We’d moved the year before to Catharine Street, where many houses were abandoned, to begin hands-on work on the shell that was our own house. Seeing Isaiah’s art work in your window along with the engaging offerings for sale, we went right in and there you were: nursing your baby Zeke next to the pot of mulled apple cider you’d prepared for visitors! It was a great moment, seeing that some young, creative, enterprising people were coming to the area. Eyes was quickly our go-to place for gifts, for small handcrafted affordable things to brighten our home, and for interesting and fun company. It was more than a good store to us – a place of reliable interest, humor, information and good sense on a street that had been abandoned for the planned cross-town expressway.
Eyes and The Works drew people, of course. Artists, curators, and many others found them and loved them. People realized in increments that this could be a good spot to live and work, and over the years an increasingly broad path to was beaten to South Street.
There’s an uncommon quality about Eyes. Its many intimate display spaces, surprises in inventory – (high low, some of it extremely fine) and the irresistible beauty are clear. You two have always been committed to good community, and you’ve worked to create and sustain that sense as South Street expanded. No easy feat. (Here is a picture of the founding members of the Third Street Gallery, which we opened on the southwest corner of 3rd and Bainbridge in 1979. There you are on the right.)
There’s something else though – the way your personal life and business were mixed, unusually openly for a very long while. (In my mind’s eye now: Isaiah seated, practicing yoga on the Fourth Street sidewalk next to Abie’s horseradish stand; your marital bed on the loft Isaiah built above the 2nd floor gallery of the store that was filled with the marvelous textiles, ceramics and musical instruments you’d bought from the craftspeople you knew; Isaiah building further up, sideways and down in that store, providing innovative display and storage areas. You’ve raised two fine sons in something of a goldfish bowl, supported a complex and innovative artist-husband toward enormous successes, maintained supportive friendships with a wide variety of people, and kept a great shop going with an even keel. Your grace and courage shine! Congratulations to you, Julia, and the whole family on the 50th anniversary of Eyes Gallery.