Original Art the “Only Way to Go."
“I’m a fan of Frankfort!” says Ellen Glasgow, owner of Capital Gallery downtown. And after just a few minutes chatting with her one feels lucky to live in this unique state capital city.
“Frankfort is a lovely capital city; a capital city in a residential neighborhood! People have no idea how special that is.” And in that moment it occurs to me that I have never even really noticed that fact, even after visiting the area dozens of times in my first two years in town.
As a resident, Glasgow has got me beat, having lived in Frankfort since 1979. She moved here after having been relocated seventeen times due to her husband’s career as a Coast Guard search and rescue pilot. So when she tells you Frankfort is special she is speaking as someone who has many places with which to compare it.
“We wanted to live in a small town where we could walk to things, but be near airports.” One day, when Glasgow and her husband were visiting her sister who lived here, they all went for a bike ride downtown. That’s when they came upon her current 314 Lewis Street location with a for sale sign in the window. “Oh! This would make a great art gallery!” she thought. “We bought it that afternoon.”
Taking full advantage of the Kentucky River, Glasgow and her husband didn’t arrive in town by car but by boat. The forty-six foot riverboat, which her husband and son piloted all the way down from Lake Erie, became their home for two years while they renovated the former Gas Company location that would become Capital Gallery.
Glasgow, a landscape artist who studied painting while attending Murray State, had always dreamed of owning a gallery. She first learned the ins and outs of running a business in the early 1970s when she was part of a group of artists that turned a cavernous torpedo factory in Alexandria, Virginia into artist studios. The Torpedo Factory Art Center is a thriving artist community and tourist attraction to this day!
Her commitment when opening the Frankfort gallery was to carry original art – “the only way to go” - with no reproductions or copies. She also wanted to convey to the community the message that “fine art can be affordable.”
Art has taken Glasgow around the world. She’s taken groups to Italy, France, and the outer banks of North Carolina, among other locations. But she has also exposed many artists to Frankfort. “Every artist loves it,” she says. Many of them come back again and again to be inspired by the natural beauty of the area and the friendliness of the people. The experience has “been very rich.”
Glasgow has created thousands of paintings, many of them in the art studio at the rear of the gallery. She had a reception every month for thirty years! Additionally, she’s welcomed all kinds of other events into the space. “We’ve had weddings, violin concerts…even a wake.”
Calling herself “an inveterate reader,” Glasgow, with the help of her grandson Dylan, opened a free library on the exterior to the left of her building’s entrance. “We were charter #3,001 with the National Free Library Association,” she proudly proclaims. Pedestrians and gallery visitors alike are invited to “take a book and leave a book.”
Everyone needs somewhere to go and something to do every day! Glasgow says, with eyes shining. For over thirty-five years that “something to do” has been to come down to her gallery and art studio. “I want everybody to be excited about how they live and where they live.”
One of these days make your “something to do” a visit to this charming gallery. I guarantee you’ll go away a little more excited about where you live.