The Englewood Art District is Independence's best-kept art secret.
And Jana Landon's eclectic Green Dog Gallery, the home of nine local artists whose talents are as varied and exciting as the creative gems she loves to showcase, is located in the heart of the district at 10922 E. Winner Road.
“We are a hidden gem - and that's the problem,” quipped Landon, whose own work includes earrings, necklaces and manipulated photography that has to be seen to be fully appreciated. “Once someone finds out about Englewood, they always say, 'We didn't even realize this was here.' So we want to get them here, and let them appreciate what we have to offer.”
There is no better way to discover the hidden wonders of Englewood than by taking part in tonight's Third Friday Artwalk, where every gallery, shop and business is open until 9 p.m.
“We're so proud of what we have to offer,” said Landon, who five years ago owned a beauty shop, where she displayed her jewelry and artwork. “We just have to get the word out, and we're doing our best to let people know that they have something very special right in the middle of Independence, right in their own backyard.”
One person who realized Englewood's potential was Russ Lawrence, an entrepreneur, water color and acrylic artist, photographer and wedding planner.
He calls himself a dreamer, and the owner of Changing Seasons at 11014 E. Winner Road made one of his dreams a reality when he came up with the idea for Third Friday Artwalks. He was the previous owner of Green Dog Gallery, and one of the first artists he invited on board was Landon.
“Russ would come into my beauty shop, and he really appreciated my jewelry and photos,” she said. “He asked me to display my work in his gallery. Gosh, that seems like such a long time ago. Now, I own the gallery and feel like it's my second home.
“We're really like a family. We have nine artists, and we have studio space for one more artist. But before we bring in another artist they have to go through an interview process where we try our best to find out if they will be the right fit.”
The Green Dog artists offer a wide variety of images, ranging from water color and acrylic to photography and assemblage art.
The featured artist this month is Vince Marrone, who was also profiled in The Examiner for his depth-defying assemblage art and acrylic paintings.
“We didn't want to have a gallery where everyone was a painter or a photographer,” Landon explained. “We wanted to offer something for everyone, and I believe we've accomplished that.”
She's also accomplished something special as her creative side came to life following the birth of her son.
“I was a stay-at-home mom and I was bored, so I went to the library and did some research,” Landon said. “I started out making clay beads, and I was always interested in photography, and I found a method where you could transfer art to clay.”
That was the genesis of Endless Possibilities, her studio that is housed within Green Dog Gallery.
The process she uses to create her jewelry is as interesting as it is dynamic.
She takes her photographic image off a computer and transfers it through a chemical process onto clay. She then creates a pair of earrings or a necklace that is a one-of-a-kind piece of art.
She also uses photo manipulation to create images that Dali would be proud to call his own.
One favorite image can be found behind the work desk in her studio. It is entitled Copper Way.
“I took a photo of a stained glass window and morphed the image into what you see on the wall,” she said. “One day my husband looked at it and asked if I saw the haunting face. I hadn't until he mentioned it - now, I see it, and so do a lot of people who come to the gallery.”
While she can't see into the future, she can dream about the growth of her beloved art district.
“I believe we're going to grow and more and more people are going to discover the Englewood Art District,” she said. “That's my dream. That's why I called my studio Endless Possibilities. The possibilities for this district are endless and I am so proud to be a small part of it.”
The Green Dog Gallery Artists will be interviewing local artists at 5 p.m. June 22. Interested artists should call Landon at 816-352-5418.