Artists

Grace Meibohm
December 2018 BSA Newsletter
Story by Michelle Marcotte
Photo by David Moog

This feature introduces members to BSA Trustees. We continue with Grace Meibohm, owner and gallerist of Meibohm Fine Arts in East Aurora

“Serene” is not how many successful businesswomen would be described. Yet, Grace Meibohm, owner and gallerist of Meibohm Fine Arts in East Aurora, oper ates a thriving fine art gallery, print gallery, and framing shop and is still serene. I spoke with her in the fine art gallery surrounded by the drawings and paintings of Hounds and Horses by Constance Payne. The dogs and horses were quietly attentive on the walls.

It seems impossible to separate Grace from her environment. The main gallery is in a large, grey, three-story converted older home on Main Street in East Aurora. A white sign announces The Art Shop which is what this business has been called since 1901. Grace’s grandfather started the business as part of his photography practice in 1901, first locating the gallery and framing shop in West Buffalo after the exciting 1901 Pan American Exposition. Her father moved the gallery and framing business to East Aurora in 1957. The gallery’s white painted rooms are home-sized, allowing prospective art buyers both an elegant setting and a home context in which to view art for their home or office. Here, the exhibits change monthly; exhibits are already booked to 2020.

The former coach house at the side of the property houses a sunlit art shop, walls covered with original paintings and prints and with the framing operation further back, yet visible. Here Grace exhibits intriguing work from artists who might not yet be ready for a full show. Tidy and lively, this display space gives buyers the impression that a search of the walls or the paintings leaning against the walls will reveal a unique “find,” or at least a sample of an ideal frame for the piece they already own.

And so it is with Grace too; she is a unique find. She grew up in this business, “under the counter” as she said, and knew her career path early. Earning a Fine Arts degree from Daemen College, she moved into the family business 35 years ago. “Working with artists and art collectors is the aspect I love. I let artists do the creating while I market and set up their work for success.”

But the gallery business has surely changed in the 117 years that Meibohm Fine Arts has been operating. I asked her about the impact that the years and technology have had on the business. “Photography was a very technically skilled pursuit when my grandfather was working,” Grace said. “I introduced my father to credit cards which expanded the ability to sell art, and to new customers.” Now the upstairs of the main gallery is used for online selling. Meibohm Fine Arts will soon have a new website. It will continue to expand their exhibit space by showing the works of their exhibiting artists. “The web- site really enhances marketing opportunities to our widely dispersed client base,” said Grace.

As the only gallerist in the BSA Trustees, I was certain that members wanted advice about how to approach galleries and I wondered if she was inundated with requests. “Yes,” she agreed, “I receive inquiries daily. I like artists to call first to provide me with some information and request an appointment. I want to know if they have a website, so I can see their work and its progression. The website and the artists’ presentation tell me about style and professionalism. I choose exhibits that fit my client’s interests.”