NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

January 10, 2013

A new home for artists

Jon Mooers opens gallery to showcase local works

By Mac Cerullo
Staff Writer

---- — AMESBURY — It’s been a successful first month for the new Jon P. Mooers Artists Gallery and Studio, which enjoyed a fantastic holiday season after opening in early December.

Jon Mooers, the gallery’s owner, said he got a big response from local artists in the community looking to showcase their work, and an even bigger response from patrons interested in buying those paintings as Christmas presents.

Scott Desroches, one of the first artists to have his work featured at Mooers’ gallery, said he had an entire wall of his work sell out.

“December was fantastic. We got a great response from the community and we found that most of our customers were from Amesbury,” Mooers said. “We sold dozens of paintings as Christmas gifts and I’m proud to say we had a very successful month.”

It’s been a whirlwind for Mooers, who first signed the lease on the property in October and spent the next four weeks completely renovating the space. The gallery was officially opened for business on Dec. 1, and things took off from there.

Since Christmas, there has been an anticipated dropoff in sales, so Mooers has taken advantage of the downtime by conducting additional renovations and planning ways to reposition the gallery to make it more effective during the off-season.

One of the big changes will be the addition of an artist’s reception area where he can hold artist openings, book signings, “Meet the Artist” nights and private business functions. Mooers hopes this will help transition his gallery from a place to buy paintings and gifts to an active art community that draws more people in.

Mooers is also planning on hosting some “painting parties” in which he teaches a three-hour painting lesson to about a dozen locals, regardless of their artistic ability.

“We’ll all do the same painting that night,” Mooers said. “Everyone will have their own canvas and I’ll do the painting with them to give them the tips that I know to mix colors, apply the paint, and after the three hours each will go home with a finished painting.”

Mooers is also planning on creating a mini Amesbury historical museum toward the front that will feature paintings of local landmarks, portraits of notable Amesbury residents and Amesbury-themed gifts that aren’t currently available anywhere else in town, like postcards and books.

The Amesbury aspect is big for Mooers, who was born and raised in Carriagetown and has painted over a dozen murals around town depicting the city’s history. He said one of the big impetuses for opening his gallery was to create a storefront where people can discover all the great local art Amesbury has to offer.

“I love this community, so I want to continue to see it develop and be able to create a new home for our artists,” Mooers said. “To me that’s a wonderful opportunity for the community.”

Mooers actually spent many years away from Amesbury after he moved to Hollywood to work in the film industry.

While in Hollywood, Mooers worked as an on-set artist with the director to make sure that what they were filming looked the way it was supposed to. Among the notable movies that Mooers has worked on are “Psycho 4,” “Stargate,” “Universal Soldier” and “Independence Day.”

“When we blew up the White House, I was the last person on the set making sure it looked right,” Mooers said.

Mooers also appeared on camera occasionally, usually in big group shots such as the rooftop scene in “Independence Day” right before the alien spacecraft destroyed Los Angeles. He did occasionally get his close-up, though, notably in a fight scene during “Universal Soldier” when Jean Claude Van Damme kicked him in the chest.

Mooers Gallery is open seven days a week and is open late Thursday through Saturday so people can come out of the restaurants and see the art. Mooers said he expects the galley’s renovations will be completed by the end of the month, though he will still be hosting events in the meantime.

For instance, on Saturday there will be a book signing featuring Muriel Angelil, who wrote a book called “Back to the Past,” an autobiography documenting her story of trying to come to America from the male-dominated Egyptian society.