GREENSBORO — For nearly three years, Jan Lukens looked out from his Revolution Mill art studio onto a mostly-empty gallery space across the hall.
Lukens creates paintings in the historic former textile mill off Yanceyville Street, now a campus of offices, studios, event areas, apartments and restaurants.
Back in 2016, UNCG’s Weatherspoon Art Museum and Revolution Mill managers had arranged for Raleigh-based artist James Marshall (aka Dalek) to paint a colorful geometric design on the walls of the 2,800-square-foot space with 18-foot ceilings.
They called it Gallery 1250 for the building’s address on Revolution Mill Drive.
They wanted to make that mural the first in a series of collaborations, reflecting a commitment to present bold and imaginative exhibitions and reach new audiences.
But there it stood. Weatherspoon didn’t receive the grants needed to proceed with other artists’ projects there. Campus tenants used the space for meetings.
This year, Lukens proposed another idea for Gallery 1250 to Revolution Mill’s managers.
“Give it to me,” Lukens said.
On Oct. 11, Gallery 1250 will reopen as an art exhibition space.
Its first show, “Triple Vision,” will display the work of three longtime local artists and friends: Lukens, Roy Nydorf and Michael Northuis. All have displayed their work in multiple professional exhibitions.
Their show will remain until early January.
Lukens will serve as the gallery’s volunteer manager. He plans quarterly shows there.
“Because I’m a representational painter, that’s where my primary interest lies,” Lukens said. “But I also love sculpture, prints, drawings, abstraction and outsider art. All these things may have a place here eventually.”
A second show will open in January with the theme of “Interiors.” It will feature two artists from Asheville and another from Pittsburgh.
“We hope that this is a new, contemporary art space that will present dynamic, high-quality artwork to collectors,” Lukens said.
Mill managers offered the space rent free.
With the mill’s apartments and commercial spaces fully occupied, “We are happy to donate space back to the arts,” said Nick Piornack, Revolution Mill general manager.
Gallery 1250 will continue to host occasional meetings.
“It will be much better than looking at blank halls versus having some neat things in the room,” Piornack said.
With its 18-foot ceilings, original oak vertical columns and track lighting, “I love this old space,” Nydorf said.
In July, Revolution Mill had gallery walls repainted a light gray, covering Marshall’s design and giving artists a neutral background for display.
“You can’t hang art on top of art,” Lukens said.
“Triple Vision” will feature primarily paintings, although Nydorf plans a large, hanging sculpture, too.
Lukens is known primarily for his oil-on-canvas paintings of horses. One of his horse paintings will be part of the exhibit.
Nydorf, a long-time Guilford College art professor now retired, has displayed his paintings, prints, etchings, drawings, wood carvings and multimedia works around the world.
Northuis taught painting and drawing at Guilford College and UNCG. He sold his work for years in two galleries in the popular arts market of New Orleans.
Greensboro can be a challenging market in which to sell art to local customers.
“In our view, the people who collect art and are passionate about it and have money to spend on it, don’t shop here,” Lukens said. “They either shop in Raleigh or Charlotte or they go to New York.”
The artists and Piornack express enthusiasm over the prospects for Gallery 1250.
“It’s going to be a great awakening,” Northuis said.
The gallery will operate for a year at first, then continue if it works, Piornack said.
“My goal,” Lukens said, “is to present dynamic art shows that people are going to love and want to talk about, and with artwork that hopefully people are going to want to buy and take home.”