The first decade that Charlene Berg spent as an art maven in Rockford, Illinois, followed by her 15 years at Gallery Ten in Gills Rock, Wisconsin will now be logged into the history book of former Door County art galleries.
Despite the fact that such a book has not yet been written, the memories, experiences and the actual works of art collected by Charlene over those 25 years make for a fascinating tale. Because she was not afraid to work with untrained and emerging artists, Berg acted as mentor and coach as well as a sales and marketing representative. But now, that book is closing as she steps back to take a breath and see what comes next.
There will still be a 12th Annual Gills Rock Artfest, taking place on Labor Day weekend as usual, but Gallery Ten has officially shut the doors. The former exhibition space will now become expanded living quarters for Charlene, her husband Dewey and their fabulous standard poodle Cuppa’ Joe.
In twenty-five years, Charlene Berg has touched the lives of tens of thousands of art lovers on both sides of the exchange. She has been quite fearless in advocating for the unusual and daring, turning away from what has come to be known as Door County art. “No lighthouses here…” she chuckles.
Charlene recounts the relationship that developed with one of the many artists that she represented, “The paintings were stunning, but mostly done with gallons of red paint. One, that I immediately bought for my own personal collection was slashed with a knife and a mirror was placed behind the cut to reflect the face of the observer.”
Over the years, Charlene learned that this artist’s work was also a means of personal therapy and healing from an abusive childhood.
“Several years later, she asked if I still had the painting,” Charlene remembers. “She wanted it back, repainted over the red with a soft warm earth tone, and returned it explaining, ‘I am better now.’”
The Door County art scene will continue to evolve as a vehicle which serves many purposes, despite the fact that a wheel just fell off. Rolling north to Gills Rock, you will still find a vestige of what was once a hive of artistic energy. The former GT Coffee will continue under Dewey’s direction, but with a new name, Gills Rock Coffee – currently open on weekends, shifting into high gear on Friday, May 11 opening daily from 8 am – 3 pm.
The coffee shop will dedicate wall space to a single artist each summer season. This year, Denny Moutray, a photographer from Gills Rock will take on that role. Charlene will work behind the scenes to provide a stream of delicious, savory and sweet bakery specialties for Gills Rock Coffee customers. Stop in and say hello. Perhaps, you will be lucky enough to catch the baker and share some memories of Charlene’s Gallery Ten.
Gills Rock Coffee is located at 12625 Hwy. 42 up north hey, above the “tension-line.” Telephone 920.854.9907 for further information or find the latest news on their Facebook page.