March 23, 2012
Jeff Hersey had a vision for his gallery, Terra Gallery, ever since he first laid eyes on the office space 20 years ago. He knew the East Poplar Avenue space would be a remarkable place to start a business, but at the time he did not know its potential. Growing up in the Columbus region, Hersey attended Ohio State University with a major in Industrial Psychology. He played keyboard in a band all through college, and his right-sided brain kept art as one of his main hobbies.
Much of his art experience is self-taught, but he has taken many classes in oil painting and metal forming as well. His entire inspiration for going into the gallery business, however, began when he needed artwork for his walls. Hersey creatively "smashed" a piece of extruded copper and hung it up: Voila! It was clever, distinctive and best of all; it was art. He took this simple act of inspiration and drove forward, deciding to own his own gallery. After having an online gallery for about ten years and then working in the Short North's Studios on High Gallery, Hersey finally had the opportunity to lease the space he always dreamed of and thus began Terra Gallery.
Hersey markets his gallery locally and nationally through commercial organizations, restaurant chains and the Gallery Hop. The Cameron Mitchell restaurants are currently featuring oil paintings from his gallery both locally and nationally. An exciting new venture that Hersey is undertaking is filling the lobby walls of Columbus’s Hyatt Regency Hotel with colorfully cityscapes. His challenge is to match the landscape pieces that inspire him the most to the already decided interior carpeting and walls. "I'm extremely excited to be able to display my art in the Hyatt Regency and that local art is going to be put on display for visitors of the city to treasure," says Hersey.
For filling Terra Gallery, Hersey does not have to search far for the artists he features, he finds them locally from CCAD or from certain trips he takes to cities like San Francisco. Each quarter he has four interns and art consultants who help assess the surroundings, color schemes, and design pieces that fit into his space. Currently, he is featuring Heather Nibert, a CCAD grad who does outstanding landscape pieces and various artistic atmospheres. Hersey mentions that landscapes have been a recent theme in his gallery, with the latest one titled “Town and Country”. He gravitates towards art that will “show him the color” and lighten up the walls. He describes his space as “cozy and very eclectic” and appreciates the fact that he has a charming store front area with a park like setting. Fans of Terra Gallery look forward to the pure abstracts and glass or metal sculptures. Hersey’s love of the Short North is that it embraces a “vibrant, and up and coming vibe.” When he isn’t working with art or planning a gallery show, Jeff’s favorite spot in the district is the North Market, where he enjoys buying locally made bread and specialty meats.
What Jeff Hersey has created is more than just a gallery – it is a fresh, open, and inspiring Utopia where there is always something new to see and something active to take part in. In the summer season, Hersey has a jazz band play in the courtyard outside of his gallery in order to make visiting the gallery an entire musical and artistic experience. In addition to these outdoor mini concerts, Hersey hosts “paint-outs” which are open painting sessions available to the public. He decides on a certain scenery or model, then has all the attendees focus on that object and simply paint what they see. Even if it is not the summer, a unique fact about Terra Gallery is that it actually has an in-house studio year round; there is always someone painting or creative activity in process! Terra Gallery is the first art gallery you run into when coming through the Short North from downtown, and it does a wonderful job of setting the standard high to enhance the visitor's experience in the Short North Arts District.