"Some of our artists have been painting for decades and are nationally known, but need a local place to put their art. I hope people looking for art will come here to find it."
The name above the door of the brown brick building, Bill’s Art Center & Gallery, says it all.
Bill Wood radiates enthusiasm for all things art. His framing business – something Wood has been doing for the past five years with his wife, Martha, – supports a new, spacious gallery on the north side of the Camdenton square that features some of the Lake’s top creative artists, from painters to jewelry creators to wood artists, and brings a regular stream of local people through the door.
Your frame shop has been a fixture on the Camdenton Square for years. Why did you move?
We moved here to offer space for the arts community at the Lake. The Lake attracts artistic people because of the beauty here, but since The Vine gallery closed there is no place where visitors or residents can go to find good, local art. Some of our artists have been painting for decades and are nationally known, but need a local place to put their art. I hope people looking for art will come here to find it.
You had a gallery at the old shop. Wasn’t that enough?
It was small and tight. Now we have high ceilings, more space to hang art and plenty of space to step back and consider how a piece would look in your home, office or wherever you want to hang it.
How many artists are represented here?
We have more than 50 artists, and are hearing from more all the time. People like Joseph Orr, Gary St. Ivany, Nancy Gray, Bill Manion, and Lynn Phariss. De Munden is an amazing pastel artist. Louise Thies won a major award from NOAPS (National Oil and Acrylic Painters’ Society) last year. All these people need somebody to promote them. And visitors to the Lake need to know where they can buy local art.
Are you doing anything else to promote local artists?
I sponsored an art show on the Square last year, and a couple of plein air events. We’ll be doing a three-day show for Wayne Doornbosch May 18-20, and we will have more open houses to promote artists. We offer regular workshops at our studio. This year’s Dogwood Festival (held in April) had a float promoting art in Camdenton. I serve as the president of the Ozark Brush & Palette club. And there’s more to come.
If you are seriously going into the gallery business, why expand your frame shop?
Custom framing is what makes everything else possible. Without it, nothing else could happen. I have more equipment and a bigger framing space here so I can do wall-sized pieces for interior designers or people with those big Lake homes, as well as regular framing. The new space makes the whole idea of being a professional framer easier.
Do you also offer art classes?
I teach oil and acrylic classes here in the gallery, and Jackie Kendall teaches sketching. Bob Barker teaches a watercolor class at my Possum Hollow Studio (off Bus. Hwy. 5 north, about a mile away). We don’t have woodcarving classes but we support the local woodcarvers group by displaying their projects here. I also sell professional art supplies but I’m not competing with Wal-Mart. I carry supplies for artists working on projects who don’t want to take the time to drive to Springfield to get something they need.
Are you a longtime artist?
My sister, aunt and dad are good artists. I was in the construction business for 30 years, and did cabinets and custom wood projects, but when the recession hit, construction wasn’t happening. I had rediscovered my love for art and when the custom framing/art supply business came up for sale in 2012. I bought it and built it up over the last five years.
Find Bill’s Art Center & Gallery at 94 N. Business Route 5 in Camdenton, across from the First National Bank. On Facebook, and online at www.billsartcenterandgallery.com, or call 573-317-1010.
Lake Lifestyles is a bimonthly local lifestyles magazine encompassing the Lake of the Ozarks region.