Culturfx Art Gallery opens downtown Saturday

DOWAGIAC — For Kandy Grady, 51, of Dowagiac, and Jeff Andres, 51, of Bryan, Ohio, opening Culturfx Art Gallery is a love story. However, it is not only their love story, but also a love story between the couple and art itself.

“Art is what brought us together, first as friends and then as a couple,” Grady said. “Art is intertwined with our daily lives. … This is not just a hobby of ours, it is our
lifestyle.”

The couple will be opening Culturfx Art Gallery for a soft opening during Small Business Saturday tomorrow. Now, after many weeks of work, Grady and Andres said they are happy to finally share the product of their love story with the public.

“This is our baby,” Grady said. “We have to coddle it right now, but hopefully it flourishes. … We are excited.”

The soon to be opened art gallery, located at 102 Commercial St., is now an explosion of colorful paintings against a backdrop of industrial brick and wood, but before that, it was just a dream the couple shared. And for Andres, a former robotic weld technician who left his old career behind to open an art gallery, it is a dream come true.

“It’s scary of course, being my age, but I’m totally in love with this thing,” he said. “This was a dream I wanted to do, and I figured with the economy the way it is, and I’m not getting any younger, now was the time to do this.”

Andres said the gallery will have a hip, relaxed and casual feel. Everything he wants the gallery to be is written on the door, as the definition of Culturfx: “a culture experience through art to achieve an overwhelming feeling of peace and satisfaction.”

“It’s a different name for a different art gallery,” Andres said. “It’s not going to be your typical art gallery. I’m going to be playing grunge music — Pearl Jam, Soundgarden. I want it to be a more upbeat experience. We are pretty much going a totally different route than a typical art gallery in terms of atmopshere.”

“We don’t want it to feel so formal that it doesn’t feel inclusive to everyone,” Grady added.

The gallery will feature a selection of lesser known and local artists — including Grady’s work. Andres and Grady also plan to host classes in the space, hoping to have a class for every medium and age group.

“We are looking for all kinds of art,” Grady said. “If someone is a musician or a poet, and they have a CD that they made, we are interested in them. If someone has a book that they have published, we are interested in them. Glassblowers, wood makers, our space is cozy, but we are going to try to accommodate something for everyone.”

Currently, Andres commutes two hours each way to the gallery from Bryan, Ohio. However, he said the commute is worth it, because just as he fell in love with Grady, he fell in love with the city of Dowagiac and said he knew it was the right place for him to open his gallery.

“When [Grady and I] first met, we would go on walks around [Dowagiac] and see the city and the festivals and things,” Andres said. “A lot of people have asked, ‘why Dowagiac?’ … Dowagiac is an art driven community. There is a lot of culture in Dowagiac that I’m really drawn to. I feel like Dowagiac was the place this needed to happen.”

Going forward, Andres and Grady said they plan to grow Culturfx into a successful business and to become more involved with the Dowagiac community.

“We want to grow and have community involvement. That’s the big picture,” Grady said. “We want to give people the same experiences they can have without having to drive to St. Joe or South Bend or Elkhart.”

“I’m really looking forward to being part of the community and contributing to the community culturally,” Andres added.

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