The loss of Imagine Art

Published 8:02 pm Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Editor, Smithfield Times

    I was greatly dismayed to learn that Imagine Art Studios was forced to close because the landlord, Smithfield Foods, needs more office space.

    Wayne Stallings, owner of Imagine Art Studios, has been a great asset to Downtown Smithfield. He took his dream of opening an art gallery featuring artists that he admired and made it a reality. When he moved into the most recent site, he made vast improvements to the interior of the building in order to create the gallery of his dreams. Many of the artists that he introduced to us specialize in historical events, a perfect compliment to our small, historic town. Local artist were also showcased, creating the perfect draw for tourists to walk from the first block of Main street to the third block where many local artists are located. And, with an ever growing artist colony in Smithfield, having a local framer that you could trust with your cherished art and other memorabilia has been a plus.

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    Now all of this is gone. Smithfield Foods has found a quick fix for office space at our expense. Smithfield Foods, once a benefactor of The Town of Smithfield, is now stifling entrepreneurship. Not only has it forced Imagine Art Studio to close, it is also taking up precious parking spaces that are needed to keep patrons coming back to our small businesses.

    Smithfield Foods, please look around and find something worthwhile to renovate instead of removing a well established business. There is the old Little’s Grocery Store right up the street. It is for sale! It could probably be remodeled in record time, has ample parking and if there is too much space, rent out the excess to start-up businesses.

    Until that happens, Shame on you, Smithfield Foods!

Catharine Owen