MORRIS – Lonnie’s Art Gallery is just what area artists have been dreaming of for years – a local space to show and sell their pieces.
The new store in downtown Morris boasts a multitude of genres of art, including oil and acrylic paintings, sketchings, pottery, wood turnings, bronze castings, glass work, mixed media work, photographs, quilting, jewelry, pieces to be worn in the hair and writing pens.
It’s an ever-changing mix of pieces, said the gallery’s owner, Lonnie Mathison, with items that cannot be found elsewhere.
Morris artist Art Ashcraft, has two acrylic paintings and two drawings at the gallery. Ashcraft said he has drawn and sketched all of his life but had never shown his work in a gallery. At Lonnie’s, Ashcraft said the artists set their prices, and the gallery gets a percentage of the sale.
“It’s nice to have an outlet for the artists so that people can display their work,” Ashcraft said at Friday’s grand opening.
Mathison moved to Grundy County from Houston, where he was a designer of ballroom gowns and shoes.
“There’s a very large ballroom dancing community there,” he said. “We designed and made the dresses and did the couture work.”
During his 20 years in the business, Mathison designed about 20 pairs of ballroom shoes that are still in production. His twin sister Laurie Musclow, who lives in Morris, was the one who convinced him to move to town.
“Whenever I went to visit him in Houston,” Musclow said, “all we ever did was go to art galleries and out to eat ... I had fallen in love with the good things Morris has. It’s one of the great Midwest towns.”
“She kept bragging about Morris,” Mathison said, “and what a great place it would be for a business.”
When Mathison met some of the area artists, when his sister organized it at a farmers market in Minooka, he was impressed.
“I met these wonderful artists,” he said. “I knew that what these artists really needed was a venue to display their work to a worldwide audience.”
Since he opened his gallery at the end of September, just in time for the Grundy County Corn Festival, he said he has seen visitors from throughout the world. It’s been great sharing the work of the local artists with them, he said.
Mathison’s November artist of the month is Sherry Kay, a painter from Yorkville. Kay said this is the first time she has displayed her work at an art gallery.
“I just happened to walk into the store one day because it intrigued me,” Kay said. “Lonnie said, ‘I need your work.’ I’m very humbled by this.”
Kay began painting one year ago after a tragedy hit her life. She said she believes God used that tragedy as a way to inspire her to make art.
“The word inspired me and gave me strength,” she said. “All of my paintings have a meaning behind them – something I was going through – a story or words that came to me. ... The Lord told me my paintings are not for me to keep. They’re for me to minister to people.”
Lonnie's Art Gallery
108 W. Washington St., Morris
Hours of operation:
Monday through Friday: 10 a.m to 6 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 12 p.m to 5 p.m.