New fine crafts gallery opens in Medina
MEDINA – Although he has always had a full-time job, opening a fine crafts gallery has been a dream of coppersmith Timothy Dunn of Albion for a long time. This year, his dream came true when he acquired space at 419 Main St. in Medina and opened American Craftsmen Gallery.
Dunn, 48, was born in Albion and still lives near Albion with his partner Jackie and their son Ethan, 12. He always thought he wanted to be a cartoonist and attended Genesee Community College in Batavia to pursue his career. That took a detour, however, when he chose to take a craft fundamentals class.
“The professor told me if I wanted to play with clay, go to one side of the class, but if I wanted to learn metal to go to the other side,” Dunn said. “I didn’t want to dry my hands out working with clay, so I chose the other side.”
Dunn chose to make a chalice out of copper for his semester project, and when the professor took him by the arm and marched him through the halls holding up his chalice while declaring to everyone, “My student made this,” Dunn knew his career choice had been made.
“My head just exploded and all ideas of drawing were gone,” Dunn said. “My professor was a potterer and said he couldn’t help me if I wanted to continue working with metal. He suggested I transfer to Brockport, where I met Thomas Markusen of Kendall. He taught me everything I know about copper – how to make it, how to display it and how to pack it up to take to a show.”
After graduation, Dunn worked for Markusen at his studio in Kendall for 15 years. Dunn doesn’t sketch his design before he starts working on a piece. He said when he begins working with copper, he takes a piece of tubing, sheet or rod and just starts forming it.
Dunn has always held a full-time job, in addition to his crafting with copper. He worked for Sigma at the Olde Pickle Factory and has been at Sigma/Baxter for 10 years. He has done hundreds of craft shows over his more than 20 years as a coppersmith, where he says he sees fellow craftsmen frantic to sell their wares, because that is their only income.
“I always thought I’d open a gallery, and I didn’t know if I was ready now, but this space became available and it is just what I was looking for,” Dunn said. “I was going to a copper shop in East Aurora one day when I drove through Medina and saw the ‘For Rent’ sign in the window. I stopped and got the phone number and called Bill Bixler, the building owner. I told him I wanted to see the space and that I was 100 percent sure I wanted it.”
Dunn is committed to making a visit to his gallery a pleasant one. When a customer opens the door, soft Christmas music is playing and the light smell of cinnamon pine cones fills the air. A hand-crafted candy dish always has candy in it – Christmas candy for this time of year.
Dunn runs the gallery alone, while maintaining his job at Baxter as a senior technician mechanical engineer.
“I know others are very capable, but my mentality is if I don’t do it myself, it isn’t done right,” Dunn said.
Gallery hours are 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, 1 to 6 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Items in his gallery include a lot of copper items, such as lamps, vases, bowls, candle holders and wall hangings; a lot of wood, including cutting boards, spoons and a chess set; block prints; pottery (even concrete pottery); handmade candles; glass orbs; pewter; and area rugs.
Dunn is also one of the elite “Roycrofters.” The Roycroft was a communal arts, business and crafts colony founded in 1895 in East Aurora by Elbert Hubbard. The Roycroft Artisans became well-known for their pottery, furniture, metalwork and hand-printed, tooled leather books which exemplified the principles of quality, beauty and the worthwhile life.
The Roycroft closed in 1938, but inspired by the Roycroft’s principles, the Roycroft Renaissance was born in 1976 and a new community of independent artisans was established.
To become a RoyCroft Renaissance Artisan, an artist must submit his/her work to a jury comprised of master artisans. Only artisans whose work exemplifies certain criteria are awarded the use of the RR mark. An artisan must be juried annually to demonstrate continued excellence and growth.
Dunn is displaying work in his American Craftsmen Gallery by 20 artisans from throughout the United States, including half a dozen local crafters from Medina, Gasport, Barker, East Aurora and Rochester. Most of the items he buys from them, rather than sell them on consignment. Everything in his gallery is hand made by fine crafters.
He is hoping to line up other fine crafters, especially someone who works in glass.
He admits the most fun he’s having is building and creating displays for the merchandise.
Dunn is also thrilled to be doing business in Medina, although he is an Albion native.
“I am awed about what is happening on Main Street in Medina,” he said. “If Medina isn’t ready for a fine crafts gallery, it soon will be. Medina is only going to get better.”
Dunn doesn’t mind having his cell phone posted on the door of his gallery, and he welcomes calls for viewing from anyone at any time. His number is (585) 729-5539, or he may be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.