Art gallery opens its doors in Downtown Springfield

A Springfield native who has been painting for decades is opening a gallery featuring more than 100 of his works of art.

The Gary W. Blevins Art Gallery, at 145 W. High St., recently hosted a ribbon cutting and open house to celebration the new Downtown Springfield gallery.

“I finally came to the realization that I wanted to do something in Springfield and share my art here,” says Blevins, who has lived in Xenia for 40 years but is looking to return to Clark County.

The gallery has neither an admission fee nor set hours. Blevins, 71, also says he isn’t guided by a motivation to sell his work.

“It’s just a place for any art lover,” he says.

Blevins converted a former bank into the gallery. Each of six rooms that were once bank offices now contain artwork related to a single theme, such as sports, wildlife and Norman Rockwell.

About 160 paintings will be on display, he says.

“It’s more of a museum than it is a gallery,” says Blevins, who works mostly with acrylics, as well as some oils and watercolors.

He has more than 300 paintings that he thinks “are good enough to put into a gallery like this,” with more than 100 paintings remaining in storage. He hopes to periodically rotate those on display.

The gallery is family friendly. Kids might especially enjoy a large painting of an outdoor scene by the front entrance that is 5 feet by 10 feet. Nearby sits the boat featured in the painting, filled with other items that he used for models.

In addition to nature scenes, visitors can see paintings of former and current athletes, as well as famous faces, such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Helen Keller, the Wright brothers and George Washington Carver.

The artwork can spur memories, and they also can tell a story, he says.

Blevins’ own story has had some twists and turns. He was born and raised in Springfield before attending the School of the Dayton Art Institute and Ohio State University. He then opened an art supply store near Wittenberg University that lasted about a year and a half.

Around that time, his goal was to complete a painting every year.

“I never thought I could make a living doing art,” he says.

He was a portrait and wedding photographer for 35 years, shooting between 30 and 40 nuptials each year. A turning point, however, came in 2002 when he was working for a printing company.

A client needed a painting of Ohio State’s football stadium, which Blevins created.
That and several more paintings related to Ohio State were licensed, and he became more serious about his artwork. Most of the art on display at the gallery was created since 2002, but he also included a few of his earlier pieces.

Blevins’ paintings have been displayed in multiple museums and galleries across the U.S., including Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Vermont, South Dakota and Florida.

He also has recreated several paintings by Norman Rockwell, met some of his former models and has had some of his pieces displayed at the Normal Rockwell Museum. Last year he became the first artist to paint in Rockwell’s studio since the famous artist himself did so in 1951.

When Blevins was younger, the art scene in Springfield was largely limited to what is now the Springfield Museum of Art.

“Now, it’s kind of exploding,” he says.

His gallery is a part of that, and he will gauge its success by the number of people who visit.

“I want people to come in and enjoy the art,” Blevins says.
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Read more articles by Diane Erwin.

Diane Erwin is a freelance writer and former reporter for the Springfield News-Sun. A graduate of Ohio State University, her articles have appeared in a number of publications in Springfield and Dayton. In addition to her journalism background, she has worked in marketing and written copy for businesses throughout the country. In her spare time, she likes to read, dream about Schuler’s donuts, and travel near and far with her husband and two children.