VOL. 119 | NO. 90 | Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Durden Gallery along with four other galleries on Huling Street are
beginning to market themselves as The Galleries of Huling
Durden Sees Evolution of Gallery,
South Main District
MARY K. LEVIE
The Daily News
After 25 years as a homemaker, Brenda Durden
decided she wanted to open an art gallery.
She and her husband, Liston, moved
from Mississippi to a Downtown residence in July 2000, and the gallery was
opened in November of that year.
I just always felt an emotional response to art, Durden said. In feeling the need and desire to do
something different with my life, I had the idea of opening an art gallery.
Durden Gallery is located in the Paperworks building on 408 South Front St., with an
entrance on Huling Avenue. The gallery is one of five
on Huling that have joined together to market
themselves as The Galleries of Huling Row.
Opening the gallery was not an easy task Durden had no prior experience or educational background in
art. At first she did everything on her own, enlisting help from friends to
hang the artwork. Later, she brought in Aaron Frye, who has a masters in fine
art from Memphis College of Art, as associate director. Liston,
senior vice president of marketing for Viking Range, also brings his artistic
expertise to the gallery.
Durden Gallery exhibits
contemporary and traditional paintings, photography and glass art. Together,
Brenda and Frye decide on the artists to exhibit, looking for works that fit
their personal tastes and the gallerys style. Its also important to find
artists who are compatible with the gallery staff.
I started out with artwork from artists that I knew;
artists from the Mid-South, South and Midwest, Durden
Durden Gallery features a broad
range of artists. The gallery recently showcased works by husband and wife
artists Greg and Christine Long from Dublin, Ireland, in honor of Memphis in
Mays featured country. Unfortunately, the artists work was delayed in New
York before the shows opening, but the shipment arrived in Memphis before the
Longs returned to Ireland.
One of Durdens main artists,
David Hinske, has been exhibiting in the gallery for
several years. Hinske and Santa Fe artist Chuck
Zimmer are featured in organon, the gallerys most
Hinske said he appreciates that Durden encourages artistic expression without pressuring
artists to produce more commercially acceptable work.
As an artist, thats a particularly unusual relationship to
have with a gallerist, Hinske
said. She has allowed me the freedom to experiment that has resulted in a
deeper resonance as my work has progressed.
Durden Gallery has evolved since
it first opened, Hinske said. Durden
allows each artist complete freedom in his work, so the gallery has taken on a
Ultimately, a gallery is skewed toward art the owner likes,
and its been interesting to watch as her space has become increasingly more
intriguing and sophisticated, without losing an occasional nod towards whimsy,
The South Main Arts District hosts its trolley tour on the
last Friday of each month, allowing art lovers and curious newcomers to
experience the offerings of numerous galleries in the area. Durden
Gallery usually times its monthly art openings to coincide with the tour.
Though visitors may not buy anything at the time, something could catch their
eye and bring them back at a later date.
We are grateful for the trolley tour, Durden
said. Our challenge now is to get them to think not only South Main, but Huling and G.E. Patterson as well.
To that end, the South Main Association recently began
another monthly event, Sunday in South Main. On the second Sunday of each
month, the district hosts a self-described mini-festival. Galleries remain
open, restaurants serve brunch and musicians entertain visitors.
Durden said she sees the Sunday
event as a family-friendly alternative to the trolley tour, one that could
bring in a completely different crowd.
After five years of living and working in the South Main
Arts District, Durden has witnessed a lot of growth
in the area. She said she believes there is a need for more amenities in the
district, such as restaurants, book stores, coffee shops and markets. She also
sees a need for more financial aid for the areas small businesses, similar to
the funding given to big business developers. If incentives were given to small
businesses, she said, perhaps the types of businesses missing from the district
would begin to appear.
It would be great to have the Center City Commission do
some visible things like creating a more welcoming cityscape in the arts
district, or helping with costs of advertising or promoting the area, Durden said. Because of my love and appreciation for art,
I am committed to staying open.
Owner: Brenda Durden
Basics: The South Main gallery features paintings,
photography and glass art by a broad range of artists. 543-0340,