Gallery 116 Houses Local Art
Writer & Photographer: Jocelyn Vare
There is a historic bungalow in the Fishers downtown Nickel Plate District on 116th Street. Many years ago, the house was the location of town government offices and the second floor was the police department. In 2002, the house changed to provide something new, but just as valuable, to the community.
This house is Gallery 116, where local makers and market goods come together in a retail shop. Today, Gallery 116 is a Fishers favorite and is well-known for unique home décor, gifts, jewelry, garments and specialty wares from more than 50 local and regional makers.
Tracy Gritter co-founded Gallery 116 and operates the shop with Anne Henn and a team of employees who are dedicated to bringing local artists’ work to their customers.
“Gallery 116 is Fishers’ local arts advocate,” Gritter says. “I am an artist, I love art and I love to help artists tell their story and reach the Fishers community.”
Fishers artist, Sharon Jiskra Brooks, attests to Gallery 116’s passion for local art. “There is no other place quite like Gallery 116,” she says. “No other retailer is as dedicated to supporting the local arts community. When you walk in ‘the house,’ you forget about everything else and just smile or laugh. That’s the environment I want my artwork to be a part of.”
Gallery 116 displays and sells Brooks’ paintings (mostly in oil and acrylic) which embrace the city life she dearly loves and the comforting rural life that surrounds her Fishers home. Brooks moved to the Geist area 10 years ago but would like to live on a small farm some day.
“It’s not unusual for me to paint the animals I would like to have on my farm,” Brooks says.
Customers of Gallery 116 are especially drawn to Brooks’ delightful depictions of farm animals, especially a painting of a rabbit that is currently featured at the shop. Brooks is currently painting a series of “stingy” bees that could be making an appearance at Gallery 116 soon. She often receives local requests to paint portraits of pets, too.
“The Fishers & Geist community has been incredible supporting and encouraging my art,” Brooks says. “There are many wonderful local artists here in the area, so when I hear from Gallery 116 that one of my paintings just sold, I am so very honored.”
An affection for Indiana also inspires Fishers photographer, Troy Burt. His American Farmscapes series of photography began nearly 20 years ago when he lived in Chicago. Burt grew up in Indiana but relocated to Chicago after college. During car rides back to Indiana for family visits, he would take photographs of farms and barns from the moving car. Over the years, he noticed that most of the barns in the photographs disappeared, having been torn down for development. This inspired Burt to create a full series of his farmscape photography, realizing that he had captured something special about Indiana’s history.
“Working in a career in advertising photography was all about controlling the subject and lighting in studio or on location,” Burt says. “American Farmscapes taken from a moving car was all about letting go.”
Burt had several photography exhibitions in Chicago before moving back to Indiana in 2008. A mutual friend introduced him to Tracy Gritter. She now sells Burt’s American Farmscapes photography at Gallery 116. Each photo is presented in a vintage wood frame, crafted by this Fishers artist who came back to his Indiana roots.
Jeremy Gardner is another local artist who is inspired by Indiana. Instead of farmscapes, Gardner is inspired by map shapes. He is an artisan who handcrafts Indiana cutouts made from reclaimed, repurposed wood. He could also be considered an “accidental artist” after he made an Indiana shape out of wood from his wife’s farm a few years ago. He posted a photo of his wood artwork on Facebook and immediately was bombarded with requests by friends who wanted one. Today, in addition to presenting his Indiana work at Gallery 116, he has an online store and fulfills requests for woodwork in the shape of other states and countries, too.
While strolling through Gallery 116, it is impossible to miss the artwork of Gayla Hodson because it is some of the most colorful and whimsical in the shop. She is a painter of vibrant pieces of artwork and lives in Central Indiana. Gayla’s work demonstrates her own unique voice. Some of her work is displayed inside a vintage suitcase, inviting customers to browse each ready-to-frame piece of art. Gayla’s artist statement is placed inside the suitcase. She communicates her inspiration to Gallery 116 customers.
“As long as I can remember, I have been driven to create,” Hodson says. “Creating is my way of connecting with people in a positive way and color is the essence of my work.”
The local artwork at Gallery 116 is constantly changing, with new pieces being created and displayed every day.
“This is not your typical, stuffy art gallery,” Gritter says. “This house was a part of Fishers history and is now a celebration of local talent and creativity. Fishers art is right here.”