JamesBen: Studio and Gallery Art Center has found its new home in the Crescent building, 615 W. Main Street, it was announced Wednesday.
The gallery announced in January that it would be moving to a new site from its longtime 129 N. Main St. location, near the General Morgan Inn, but no details were provided about what the new location would be.
The Crescent building, built in 1925 as a Greeneville elementary school and used for that purpose until 1981, is owned by Bewley Properties, whose headquarters is located there.
The company, headed by President Kent Bewley, thoroughly renovated the vacant former school after buying it from the Town of Greeneville in 1999, and converted it to an office building, with one former classroom restored and preserved as it had been in the 1950s.
JamesBen: Studio and Gallery Art Center, a fixture at the corner of North Main and West Church streets since 2002, is now setting up displays and arranging the work of the 150 Tennessee artists and artisans allied with the gallery, a news release states.
A particular point of pride with gallery director JamesBen Stockton, the release says, is that more than two dozen of those artists are from Greeneville and Greene County.
"After more than 10 years as part of this community, my affection for Greeneville is greater than it has ever been," says Stockton.
"Knowing the great effort that went into saving Crescent School on the part of this community and Kent Bewley, I could not be more pleased to join the family in this historic location on West Main Street."
Patrons seeking the new site of the regional art center will find it in Suite 201, on the second floor of the Crescent building, which itself is located at the west end of the Greeneville Historic District.
But for Stockton, who has worked in the arts for more than 40 years, it is often his creative and intuitive urges that guide his decisions, the news release states.
"In talking with Kent Bewley about locating within the former Crescent School, he told me that the space he had in mind was the old band room.
"Art is all about creative energy, and there is something wonderful about setting up the gallery in a space where generations of young people were first shown the power of the music they could make together."
Adding to the historic ambience of the new Art Center location is that the space was the temporary home of the collection from the Andrew Johnson Homestead during the renovation of the 17th president's last home in 2003 and 2004.
The location also has ample practical appeal as well for the presentation of art, he said.
"With 1,100-square-feet of open display area, the Art Center is filled with the glowing natural light so appealing not only for the creation of art but for showing it at its best.
"The north wall of the gallery is all windows up to the ceiling, with windows facing to the west and south as well," says Stockton. "I can't wait to fill them with our stained-glass collection.
"High ceilings promote the feeling of open space while the generous wall space will provide excellent viewing for the gallery's larger and more dramatic paintings.
"The floor area will showcase the gallery's eclectic offerings in sculpture, woodwork, and pottery.
"And, to symbolize the creative energy from which the Art Center arose" more than 20 years ago, he said, his jeweler's bench "will occupy a prominent place." (The gallery was first established in Franklin, Tenn., and operated there for almost two decades.)
The release noted that Stockton's individually-designed creations in gold, silver, and platinum are in private collections in 30 different states and eight foreign countries.
As soon as JamesBen: Studio and Gallery Art Center is fully settled into the Crescent building, the release notes, hours of operation will be Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by appointment.
The telephone number has remained the same, (423) 787-0195.
Because of the location on the second floor, an elevator is available by appointment for those who may have difficulty climbing the stairs.
But the release emphasizes that old friends, patrons, and visitors need not wait until the grand re-opening to come by and visit.
"I am thrilled to continue to be a part of Greeneville's historic and cultural community," the release quotes Stockton.
"Please feel free to come by and see the work in progress and share my great joy and satisfaction in our new gallery home."