Creative Touch

Artist Crowe to open
new gallery in Madison

He has bought the former
Mayflower building on upper Main Street

By Nichole Osinski
Contributing Writer

(March 2012) – Art is an ubiquitous aspect in this world. For Geoffrey Crowe, this holds true in his own life. A sculpture and painter at heart, Crowe’s work has become a close part of who he is. His art isn’t just in galleries but has now become a permanent fixture in his home.
Now the new owner of the former Mayflower building in downtown Madison, Ind., Crowe, 51, has made it is permanent residence. Since moving from Ryker’s Ridge in Madison to his present location on the far east end of Main Street at 928 Park Ave. He now has the task of transforming the space into more than a gallery. The building will not only showcase Crowe’s sculptures and paintings but provide a place for his studio and home. It’s a combination of setting up house and bringing in visitors.

Geoffrey Crowe

Photo by Nichole Osinski

Geoffrey Crowe poses
in his new gallery
location with a piece
of his work titled,
“Finding the Beat.”

“I have the whole challenge that I’m on the edge of town,” he said. “For me, that’s the fun part – doing something with the property and figuring how to attract people here.”
Crowe may be a full fledge artist, but in the beginning his career was a little less than artistic. A self-proclaimed “army brat,” Crowe was born in Maryland but began traveling at an early age. After living in states such as Alaska and Kentucky, Crowe went on to attend California State University-Sacramento, where he graduated in 1985 with a degree in finance.
His life took a turn when he was in Puerto Rico with his spouse at the time. While looking for something to do one day he stumbled upon a painting set in a Staples. With paintbrush in hand, he created a beach scene. This was the beginning.
At age 40, he began to attended art classes at La Liga de Arte and La Escuela de Artes Plastics in Puerto Rico. In Crowe’s own words, making art “just grabbed me.”
When he felt his ability as an artist had reached a new level, he presented his first exhibit. The exhibit took place in 2004 and was titled “En Accion,” a variety of paintings capturing children playing soccer.
Crowe managed to have another exhibition, this time with sculptures, before heading to Ireland for two years. Here he furthered his technique with more lessons in sculpting to give his work an “earthen” appearance that is also apparent in his recent work.
In 2007 Crowe moved back to the United States. With influences from both Puerto Rico, Ireland and the people who taught him he was ready to expand his art.
He has done several exhibitions locally in Madison in places such as Hanover College, Joeyg’s Restaurant and NightClub, and the Artisan Gallery. While building a repertoire in Madison, Crowe eventually began looking for a place to better suit his needs. A real estate listing on 115 E. Main St. was the blank canvas for which he was looking.
Crowe moved into what was originally the Mayflower moving company building and has since begun the large task of turning it into a house, gallery, studio and possibly more. The 20,000-square-foot building started out as the Jacob Salmon Brewery in the 1800s. The building went under two names – Greiner Brewery and Madison Brewing Co. – before closing in the early 1900s.
“I want to honor the history of the building,” said Crowe. “It’s my home and it’s a gallery; it’s finding that balance where all of this melds together.”
Crowe’s finished building will surely be a turnaround from what it originally was. The sprawling rooms are filled with boards, steel, art and the signs of a work in progress. However, even with this large space to work on he still managed to find opportunity with what he has. A small building adjacent to the main structure will provide a canvas for visitors coming from the Vevay area while the steel ma1y become future artwork.
The plan is for the gallery to be on the first level with large sculptures in the basement and a possible staging area on the third level. The finished look will be contemporary and showcase his more modern work.
Comparing Crowe’s timeline of art his modernization is evident. From the stronger strokes to the tactile sculptures he aims to produce art that stops people in their tracks.
Though he has had various influences, he credits his main inspiration from God. He considers himself a very spiritual person and explains God is his muse.
At the same time he still feels the need to become settled in his home. Being occupied with this project has left little time to create, and Crowe is looking forward to a time when things slow down, because it doesn’t just mean more peace but more time to sculpt and paint.
Though his time to make new pieces has been minimal, Crowe stills tries to keep his eye trained when he can. One way has been a Tuesday class hosted by artist Peter Ellis. Crowe and other artists meet to practice drawing models and improve their technique.
Bob Saueressig, another local artist who is also a regular at the Tuesday classes, is hopeful of Crowe’s endeavor and bringing more art to Madison.
“His work has so many different facets whether he’s painting or doing sculptural work,” said Saueressig. “The more we can expose people to art the better.”
Crowe plans to open his gallery in June and let the first year be a test run. Getting his gallery running also means working with other local artists and showing in different venues.
“There’s a lot of ideas to play with,” he said. “I want to see what happens on a local level. I’m just letting go and going for it.”

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