Kelly Reichert never planned to run an art gallery. As an artist, and mom of five children, she used to spend the majority of her time homeschooling and working to expand her collection of multi-media works.
But in 2018, when she happened to become a resident artist of the 3060 Gallery in the Hilltop neighborhood, she had no idea that she would soon become the sole owner.
Since then, the 51-year-old has not only taken over the physical gallery but has also become an enthusiastic member (and social organizer) of the Hilltop community.
And among the gallery hops and occasional artist receptions she hosts at 3060, Reichert puts together an art brunch for the neighborhood one Saturday out of every month; she hires a musician, brings in a food truck, and opens her doors to the community. “It brings the art gallery out onto the sidewalk, and it makes it fun,” she said.
So on this most-recent Saturday, Aaron Minnick’s ukulele could be heard as guests stood in line to order eggs, bacon and waffles from Broke Johnny’s food truck.
The 3060 Art Gallery was opened in February 2018 by Patti VonNiessen, a stained-glass artist who also directed and organized the annual Summer Jam West, a festival held on the West Side with the message of “Pursuing Good Together.”
The festival, which was canceled for 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, aims to each year be a cultural celebration of the West Side — and at the end of every festival, a mural submission is chosen to celebrate and remind the community of the cultural significance of the Hilltop neighborhood.
According to Reichert, the block of businesses on the corner of West Broad Street and North Westmoor Ave. are a lot more than just storefronts. The owners have a collective motto on their website: "Honoring our history and embracing our future.”
Reichert said it’s important to her and the neighboring businesses to honor the people who live in Westgate and the Highland West area.
“We want to do right by them,” Reichert said, “We want to move forward, and my goal is to present to them the very best caliber art that we can, but still be accessible. ... We don’t want to be an island in ourselves, only concerned about ourselves.
“We are focused on making art and the creative experience accessible for people, where they feel welcomed, valued, and seen, and heard, and loved. And I want that to be our artists who show, and our patrons who come in."
And from the artists she features to the musical groups she brings in, Reichert makes sure to host a diverse crowd; she often looks for self-taught local artists who haven’t yet had their first shows.
As for her customers, Reichert wants to make the art as accessible as possible. “We have small works—for small budgets, and small spaces,” Reichert said.
Inside the front door to the left, in a room big enough for maybe five guests, is a section of shelves where guests can find pieces of art for under $10.
Johnda Oost, a guest at 3060 Gallery from Dublin, said that though she had only been to Reichert’s gallery once before, she quickly fell in love with the space and Reichert’s approach to running it. “She allows everybody to have a spotlight here. And she show cases them simply, yet effectively.”
And one of her favorite things about Reichert?
Reichert said part of her mission with the gallery is to make sure everyone feels welcome in the space, keeping in mind that art galleries can at times be intimidating for people who aren’t well-versed in what Oost called “art speak.”
John Rush, the owner of Reichert’s next-door neighbor Third Way Café and self-proclaimed “social entrepreneur” has the same philosophy for his coffee shop. Rush calls Third Way the “living room” of the Hilltop neighborhood and strives for it to be a welcoming community for everyone.
Rush’s goals for the coffee shop are illustrated by the mural on the side of the building.
The mural, created by three local Columbus artists Lucie Shearer, Marcus Billingsley, and Thom Glick, paints a picture of three people of color gathered around a table, with a cup of coffee, engaging in conversation. Rush said one of the important things about the mural is the welcoming nature of the image — to send the message that people of color are welcome and encouraged to enjoy the space.
According to Rush and Reichert, both of their businesses operate under the knowledge that gentrification is a risk for the neighborhood, and they are constantly making decisions to fight it.
Gentrification is the process through which a low-income part of a city is developed with renovated homes and expensive businesses by middle- or upper-class communities, often displacing former members of the community who eventually, due to higher property values, can no longer afford to live in the area.
Both Reichert and Rush, along with the other business tenets and neighbors on the corner of West Broad Street and North Westmoor Avenue at their side, are constantly looking for ways to meet the community where they are.
“For us to be able to partner with those businesses and bring to the Hilltop something different, viable and sustainable for that neighborhood, and for the people in that neighborhood—I think that is the difference that we’re making,” Reichert said. “To keep the money local, to give them somewhere to shop that’s in their realm.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Columbus' 3060 Gallery hosts monthly Hilltop art brunch