Muse Gallery reopening in German Village

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Even though the Great Recession is to art galleries what a knife is to Vincent van Gogh's ear, A Muse Gallery was determined not to let the brutal hacks get the best of them.

The gallery's owner, Caren Petersen, began to crave change around the same time the economy tanked. That potent combination left her and gallery manager Hali Robinson (who is also Petersen's 22-year-old daughter) searching for a suitable shot of business adrenaline.

They found it in German Village.

The gallery shut its Grandview doors after 12 years and is moving into a new space on Whittier Street. The makeover includes dropping the "A" in the name and adding a sister business, Circle Gallery.

Circle will represent the gallery's more prestigious (and expensive) artists and will provide art brokerage, leasing and resale services. This is Petersen's domain, while Robinson has taken the reins at Muse.

These two galleries are in different rooms on the same floor of the building, separated only by a narrow hallway.

Renovation efforts included tearing out ice-cream parlor counters that used to be inside. The walls have been painted and track lighting installed. Petersen's husband, Bill, stained the floors, and everyone's learning the intricate handle jiggle required to make the toilet stop running.

"My feelings are really mixed," Petersen admitted. "It's exciting. It shows the art better, and it feels fresh.

"But I'm nervous, terrified as all get out," she continued. "I wanted to do more than survive [the recession], but only time will tell if this was a good decision."

A few days before the new opening, Robinson was glowing. While she ordered a sandwich at her new neighbor, Brown Bag Deli, she introduced herself around the eatery with an easy charm that made you think she already knew everyone.

It's easy to get the impression that Robinson is older than she is and has been in this business for years. In a way she has. She would sleep under her mother's desk as a kid during meetings and tagged along to artist openings.

Running a gallery is a career choice neither woman foresaw for Robinson, but after the normal young-adult push against what one's parents do subsided, she said she "found that this was very much my passion. I eat, breathe and sleep this."

Robinson said the move has been overwhelming "but it's been a huge learning experience, especially in what makes this business successful."

Muse Gallery needs no reminder that one of Van Gogh's most famous portraits is his self-portrait with a bandaged ear.

Muse Gallery and Circle Gallery

11 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, March 18

188 E. Whittier St., German Village