From Our 360° Portfolio: A Must-Visit North Carolina Art Gallery — Ambleside Gallery in Greensboro, NC
In 1982 Jackson Mayshark founded Ambleside Art Gallery in Manchester, England. Now a cornerstone of artistic excellence in Greensboro, NC, Ambleside Gallery represents more than thirty painters, sculptors, and photographers from around the world. In addition to breathtaking exhibitions, Ambleside offers a variety of beautiful workshops, lectures, seminars, and performances. Located in the historic district of downtown Greensboro, Ambleside is the perfect destination for art-enthusiasts and casual lovers of culture alike.
Two years ago we had the privilege of working with Jackson, creating a new website for the gallery that showcases all of its inspiring arts and artists. We caught up with him last week for a brief interview.
Beaumonde: Could you describe, in brief, your journey as a gallery owner and how you got started? (From England, the source of Ambleside's name, to Greensboro.)
Jackson: Although I have been fascinated by all forms of visual and performing arts for as long as I can remember, my personal obsession began in seventh grade when I left public school to attend small private school that emphasized the arts as a core essential for the development of a well rounded human being. Until that time I was shy, introverted and, I would say, pretty confused about my place in family, school and the world. Several weeks into that first year I auditioned for a part (any part) in a medieval play about a unicorn. Surprisingly, I was given the lead role, the unicorn. From that one experience I discovered a voice, an identity and a confidence to express myself. Theater continued to be my primary, creative outlet throughout middle school, high school and college. A spiritual quest drew me to India in 1972 where I remained for ten years, living in an ashram, studying ancient, Vedic writings and practicing Bhakti Yoga. I also helped to establish a vibrant performing arts center and became its first artistic director.
From India I moved to England where I married and raised a family. With no contacts in the theater world and needing to feed an increasing number of hungry mouths, I decided to become an art dealer. It seemed a natural fit considering my love of art and my need to communicate (living theater) with interesting people in meaningful ways. Moving about in an old and weary vehicle I had purchased for 100 pounds I would attend important exhibitions in London and elsewhere in search of exceptional works of art. Upon discovering works that inspired me I would track down the artists and offer to represent them as a traveling art dealer. Nearly all would agree to supply me, initially, with one or two paintings. Some would require some amount of financial security, others would (amazingly) trust me to return, either with money or, if something sold, the work itself. Gradually I assembled a "stable" of artists, some of whom were well established, others were emerging. Selecting affluent areas in various parts of the country I would carry portfolios of unframed paintings and knock on doors. Gradually, over time, my client base grew to the point where door-to-door was no longer required and new appointments were made through referrals. Twelve years and three children later, my wife and I decided to move back to the States where I would establish a gallery featuring the many British artists I had been representing there.
In 1994 we moved to and settled in Grosse Pointe Michigan, a wealthy suburb of Detroit. Opening our first gallery there we had the good fortune, over a ten year period, of gaining the enthusiastic support of the local community. In addition to running the gallery I became involved with the local arts council, acting, for a time, as its president. Ambleside Gallery flourished in Grosse Pointe for eight years until the stock market crash in Dec of 2000 followed by the 9/11 terrorist attack in 2001. With dozens of retail businesses closing all around us we decided, in 2003, to move south to North Carolina. We found Greensboro to be a welcoming city and we felt there was a good potential for establishing a successful art gallery there.
So, here we are, fifteen years later. Ambleside Gallery, which opened in 2004, has had to face many challenges in its efforts to remain open through a lengthy, painful recession. But I must say that all of the hardships bundled together shrink to invisibility when compared to the countless rewards. The daily interactions with artists, clients and visitors; the thrill of being present, day after day in a peaceful space, surrounded by exquisite works of art and the satisfaction of contributing something of lasting value to the community as well as to those who wonder in from afar. All of these reasons and more give us cause to reflect upon our great fortune. We feel blessed to be continually enriched by the art that surrounds us, the artists who portray the unlimited facets of beauty and truth through their visual expressions, and by the company of those who share an appreciation for such things.
Want to learn more about Ambleside Art Gallery and its unique history? About current programming and collections? Head over to amblesidearts.com and be sure to visit next time you're in Greensboro!