For years and years there has been a genuine art gallery in downtown Champaign and it is finally going away. The owner is one of the unique people in CU…and his establishment
Here is the article from the News Gazette about the closing of The Old Vic Art Gallery:
CHAMPAIGN — The Old Vic Art Gallery, a downtown Champaign landmark for over two decades, will close.
“I’m getting old,” said owner Vic Pella, who is 82. Running the gallery became “too much of a struggle at my age.”
The Urbana resident said he built a shed in his backyard and plans to do some art restoration there.
Pella and the late Susan Evans opened the Old Vic Art Gallery, 11 E. University Ave., in 1985. (Evans named it after the Old Vic Theatre in London.) Evans died in 2009.
Prior to the Old Vic, Pella opened his own gallery, the Moon Gallery, on Green Street in Urbana in 1972.
Pella is an Army veteran who earned his master’s in fine arts from the University of Illinois, worked as an art director at WCIA Channel 3 and, with two other men, co-founded the underground newspaper The Walrus.
After Evans died, Pella initially thought of turning the space into an artists’ cooperative
“This is a nice place, but nobody comes here any more,” he said, adding he has noticed a drop in foot traffic since the University Avenue construction began several months ago to replace streetlights, sidewalks and other updates.
“It wasn’t a tough decision to make,” he said. He has a heart condition, does not have a driver’s license and must take the bus to and from the gallery.
“I’m looking forward to waking up and not having to go anywhere,” he said.
A closing date for the gallery has not been set yet. In the meantime, Pella is selling art, frames and other items. An auction may be held later.
What will become of the space is not clear. The building’s owner, Gene Hardwick, a Champaign architect, filed for bankruptcy earlier this summer. He made the filing in bankruptcy court in Danville and listed assets of $9.62 million and liabilities of $9.33 million. Hardwick also owns 9 E. University. Ave., which is currently home to Indi Go Artist Co-Op.