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New 24 Below Gallery in Niagara Falls will offer classes, live music

NIAGARA FALLS – A co-op style art gallery will open later this week in the basement of the former Niagara Club.

Andrea and Tina Galyn are opening 24 Below Gallery and Cafe, at 24 Buffalo Ave., a business they want to function with input from artists, almost like an “artistic think tank.”

They also want artists to be able to support themselves, or at least make enough money to support their art, Andrea Galyn said.

“It was the perfect timing, I think, to do this because of just the spirit of creativity that’s building in our city, and optimism, finally,” she said.

It’s hard for a gallery to support itself just by selling art, so the Galyns have an event-focused business plan, including offering painting and photography classes, live music, films and other activities. Some painting classes will be offered across the street in Niagara Falls State Park. The gallery also will offer “painting on tap,” which is essentially a painting class with an open bar.

“The artistic juices just get flowing,” Andrea Galyn said.

Some of the art that will be for sale includes paintings, jewelry, stone carvings and glass work. There also will be other items, like baptismal gowns and jars of raw honey made in Lewiston. They’re also trying to get locally produced olive oil.

“We would like to feature local, food-type items,” Tina Galyn said.

The 3,000-square-foot space will include a cafe. They’ve also applied for a liquor license.

The married couple, originally from Columbus, Ohio, have experience in the nonprofit sector and also have a soap-making business and rent apartments in the city. They’ve also set up galleries for other artists.

They said they have been helped greatly in setting up the gallery and planning events by Mary Grace Ohrum, who makes wearable art.

The gallery is planning a kickoff reception at 7 p.m. Friday, which will include a chance to meet some of the artists. During the peak tourist season, 24 Below will be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays.

While close to 50 artists already have agreed to partner with the gallery, the Galyns say there’s still more room. Artists who may be interested in showing some of their work should call the gallery at 285-8689 or visit the gallery’s Facebook page.

One of the gallery’s main roles will be to highlight artists as communicators, Andrea Galyn said.

“I feel like it’s a chance for artists to communicate to our visitors and our tourists who we are in Western New York,” she said. “A T-shirt that says “I love Niagara Falls” is nice, but it doesn’t really say who we are.”