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Sharon Pritchard: "I love to do the window and make people stop and think 'Oh my god, that's gorgeous.'"

Rebecca Smith

Sharon Pritchard spoke with the Missouri on Mic team at the Kirksville Farmers Market in May.

She and several other local women operate an art gallery in downtown Kirksville called Gallery 104.

Missouri on Mic is an oral history and journalism project documenting stories from around the state in its 200th year.

Sharon Pritchard: One of our neighbors had moved from Arkansas was an artist. Because, for her, mainly for her artwork, and then she included other artists in it.

And when they went their separate ways, they were going to sell the gallery and my husband had artwork, he did artwork, actually as therapy for his job that was very stressful.

So there were some of us who had, you know, been in the gallery working, just helping out.

And we decided to get together and a group of us women decided to buy the business.

And we kind of pattern ourselves after actually Bluestem, in Columbia.

We talked to them, had a group call with them, to some of the original owners of that, to ask them how it worked for them.

And so five of us then bought the business. And four of us actually work it. Four of us who are retired actually work it.

It's really fun.

And but when we bought it, it was almost all paintings.

And since then we've added we I think we have 35 regional and local artists, and we have everything you can think of in there.

I think we have 35 regional and local artists, and we have everything you can think of in there.

Now it's more, we added the change the name slightly, because we are really a gift shop and an art—I mean, everything is handmade, but we have artisans and fine artists.

So it's really been fun. And it's right down on the square.

So where the activity we hope will be more later if we can get the downtown revitalized more.

My job, I'm not an artist at all. So my job is to do the arranging of the artwork, which I think is just a lot of fun.

I mean, my background, and my college degree was in elementary ed, but I told my grandson that I when I grow up, I want to be an interior decorator.

And I really love that job. And I'm always—the girls are always coming in and things are always in a different place. That's just so much fun.

And and I just love to mix and match so that people can see what it looks like in the if they put it in their home.

So no, it's really a fun job. I love that.

And then I'm, I'm sort of a liaison with a lot of the artists,

I'll actually go to their their place their workshops and pick out pieces. That's fun.

You have to be careful, because I really like abstract a lot. And so I have to make sure that that I don't pick out just things I like.

I could easily do that.

But I try and just look at the quality of the piece.

Whether I think, even if I'm not sure that people will really appreciate it if I think it's really fine work and it's even too expensive for my clientele.

I take it with me because I want people to see just fine pieces.

I love to do the window and make people stop and think 'Oh my god, that's gorgeous.'

Or you know, 'Where did that come from?'

So I had to just really be careful not to stick to my own appreciation of certain pieces.

Grace Pankey is a student at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. She's a member of the Missouri on Mic team.
Rebecca Smith is an award-winning reporter and producer for the KBIA Health & Wealth Desk. Born and raised outside of Rolla, Missouri, she has a passion for diving into often overlooked issues that affect the rural populations of her state – especially stories that broaden people’s perception of “rural” life.
Caoilinn left KBIA in December of 2022.
Caoilinn Goss is the Audio Convergence Editor at KBIA. She trains and oversees student reporters, editors and anchors to produce daily afternoon newscasts. She's also a Missouri Journalism School alum.