(Gail Juren returns to the Ghent retail scene with ARTfull exclusively for the holiday season.)
By Jeff Maisey
One of the unexpected gifts of the 2020 holiday season is the return of retailer Gail Juren.
In late October, Juren popped-up with ARTfull in a familiar Ghent location — 806 Baldwin Avenue — where she operated Texture on the first floor of a house-turned-business for 16 years, while her husband, the late Elliot Juren, held court daily with friends and neighbors on the second floor coffee shop he established as Elliot’s Fairgrounds.
Gail and Elliot Juren were already legends in the Ghent Business District. Together, from 1978 to 1998, they owned and operated Elliot’s, an immensely popular restaurant on Colley Avenue where Red Dog Saloon, a sports bar, is located today. Elliot’s was “the” place to be seen and people watch in the Ghent restaurant scene, and as a bonus everyone received an enthusiastic “hello” and “thanks for coming” from the charismatic Elliot Juren.
The Jurens sold their post-restaurant businesses — Texture and Fairgrounds — after Elliot became very ill. While the coffeeshop continues to operate in its same location, Texture, under new ownership for the past four years, recently moved to a prime retail location on Colley Avenue next to Running Etc.
For Gail Juren, who owns much of the commercial property on the Red Dog block, having her former retail space vacant with the approach of the holiday season presented a fun opportunity — ARTfull, a seasonal gallery, and specifically, a holiday destination.
“My focus is to bring attention to local and regional artists who continued to work during very difficult, isolating Covid times,” said Gail Juren. “Curating this gallery is all about making choices — by me, and by those who visit, to elevate our experiences in every meaningful way that we can.”
Enter ARTfull and be greeted by an inviting array of original works of jewelry, pottery, fun apparel, photography, fiber arts, cards, ornaments, home decor, and gifts for children. Colorful paper origami tree ornaments dazzle the imagination as a kaleidoscope of other funky finds await at every turn.
Among the local artisans whose works are available at ARTfull are Karen Kiki Kinser, Jeanne Goodman, Judy and Don Hurwitz, Joan Cuccio, Sharon Chantland, Peggy Beardslee, Shirley Cooper, Sue Hill, Beth Cochran, Wendy Auerbach, Diane Harrell, Jeanette Juren, Lynn Ruehlmann, Peggy Powers, Joy Ragland, Deb Segaloff, Martha Thrasher, Myra Nuzzo, Joy Ragland, and Gail Juren. Plus Eugene, Oregon based quilt and fabric artist Mary Alice Neubeck.
The artists featured at ARTfull are friends Gail Juren has known through the years. Juren was well aware of their struggles during the ongoing pandemic that saw signature events such as Stockley Gardens Spring and Fall Arts Festival and the Boardwalk Art Show canceled.
“They wanted to keep creating,” explained Juren of the artists. “They were thrilled to have the opportunity to get their work out there and follow their muse.”
Gail Juren plans to operate ARTfull through the end of the year, and then return to retirement. She’s keen not to take credit for running the entire show, pointing to the tireless work of Martha Thrasher, Penny Lewis and Susan Kaplan.
A holiday season, especially being 2020, full of meaningful purpose and reflection makes the unexpected pop-up of ARTfull a rare gift.
“The energy that flows through this building — not only in my store but upstairs at Fairgrounds Coffee — that is very rewarding to me,” Juren said. “There’s a certain vibe in this building, and for people who knew Elliot and the restaurant, they would appreciate.”
ARTfull: 806 Baldwin Ave, Norfolk, 757-644-6752, artfull.info. Hours: Tues-Fri 11 to 5, Saturday 10-5, Sunday Noon to 5.