In its new location neighboring Ella, Hayley Gallery boasts a more sophisticated feel.
As a child, Hayley Savage's sister nearly pulled her arm out of its socket. But the two weren't fighting. "She was dragging me around to see art in museums," Savage said, laughing.
And while her arm healed, what was left in the Long Island, N.Y. native was an appreciation for art from her enthusiastic sister and her mother, who covered the walls of their 1,000-square-foot home with reproductions of art. "My mother didn't have a lot of money," Savage said. "But we had art in our house."
Make that posters of art. Except for the Chagall-an original lithograph by Marc Chagall that hung in their hallway, which Savage recalls with the fondness of a favorite childhood toy.
For most of Savage's life, art was her outlet. It was a serious hobby she fed by collecting one piece of art each year until, 30 years later, she is almost out of space in her New Albany home (which she bought solely for the wall that could house a 6-foot by 12-foot painting).
Her personal collection is comfortably worth six figures.
"I'm an overachiever when it comes to buying art," said Savage, admitting that she has to resist constantly buying from the roughly 50 artists whose work she carries.
Opening the gallery was, Savage jokes, a sort of midlife crisis. By 44, her successful sales and marketing career had left her with a lifetime achievement award and financially wanting for nothing. She yearned only, she said, for "a peace within."
"I have a 2 million mile card on American Airlines. When I wasn't traveling around the world, I was traveling around the country. My kids were getting older. I didn't really find my career as rewarding," she said. "It was also a mortality thing. My father passed away in his 40s. And I was coming to the point where I was going to be reaching (that age)."
In 2007, Savage began to think of the legacy she was leaving for her son and daughter. So she turned to the only true passion in her life: art. In a matter of months, Hayley Gallery opened in a former firehouse twice the size of Savage's childhood home.
When she unveiled Hayley Gallery, no one was prouder than her sister, Marcia Gordon, who uses words like vivacious, enthusiastic and aggressive to describe Savage. "Whatever Hayley does, she does so successfully because she puts all of herself into everything," said Gordon, who is 16 years older than Savage. "She goes after what she wants. She'll fight for what she wants and she will pursue her dream. And that's what she did."
With oak-colored floors and beige walls, Savage created a space for modern artwork by mainly Ohio artists with a mix of paintings, ceramics, glass, metal work and jewelry. It was a prism of contemporary color offset by natural light flooding in through a wall of storefront windows.
Now, it's been reborn about a mile down the road in a space beside Ella. There are 19-foot-high ceilings and stained cement floors. The more industrial, sophisticated feel is complimented by the smells of Ella's kitchen, which shares a wall with the long and narrow 1,500-square-foot gallery. It's easily accessible through a glass door, and diners are welcome to grab cocktails at Ella's bar and browse the gallery while they wait for a table.
"I anticipate people will get hungry the second they walk in," Savage said. "It will hit on one more sense that the art (didn't hit on before)."
What won't change is the mission of the gallery-to showcase talented Ohio artists, many from Franklin and Licking counties. Savage selects many of her artists by asking one simple question: "Would I hang it in my own house?"
"That's my litmus test," she said. "That's the reason there's a lot of color."
And a lot of art.
Five years into her passion project, Savage is excited to be evolving.
"My kids have so much respect for me because I am doing this," she said, adding that they've already begun to claim art they want from her home. "I'm so thrilled to be able to know that when I'm not here, my kids can look at that piece of art and I've left a legacy that I wanted to leave."