MACHIAS, Maine — Janet Driensky lived in Washington County for 17 years before she realized how many artists were living Down East.
“I didn’t realize that many talented people lived here under my nose until Sandi [Malagara] opened the gallery,” Driensky said Tuesday.
Malagara opened Expressions at 11 Main Street last year on Aug. 15 in a building that is slated to be torn down in 2018 so the gas station and convenience store next door, owned by R.H. Foster, can expand. She envisioned a traditional arts and crafts gallery featuring the work of area artists but also wanted to offer workshops for local residents and studio/work space for artists who needed it.
“Things are going great, given that I didn’t get started until the end of the tourist season,” Malagara said last month. “I’ve had a lot of sales and the workshops have been extremely well attended.”
Because she does not have a long-term lease, the gallery is considered to be a pop-up business, similar to seasonal kiosks in shopping malls or costume shops open only in the months leading up to Halloween. Malagara said that if business continues to be as brisk as it has been, she will be looking for a new location early next year.
Attending a workshop with her sons while they were home on a semester break from college was one of the things Driensky, an avid scrapbooker, wanted for Christmas. On Monday, Driensky, Jackson Paddock, 22, and Justin Paddock, 21, made paper three-dimensional stars that are lighted from the inside.
Jackson attends the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in Florida and Justin is a student at Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont.
“It was a lot of fun and the cost of $25 a person, including materials and snacks, was reasonable,” Driensky said.
Malagara and her husband, Ryan Malagara, moved to Machias from Westport, Connecticut, 12 years ago. They opened it — the Ebay Store, now located on Dublin Street, to buy and sell secondhand electronics, video games, DVDs and jewelry. It also houses a UPS store. Sandi Malagara last year got involved in the town’s Revitalization Commission.
“Members of the commission started talking about making things downtown look a little nicer because of the empty storefronts on Main Street,” she said last month. “Worked it out with R.H. Foster to temporarily lease this building and they gave me a good rate because they were in favor of making the downtown area to look more appealing.
“My plan was to provide space for local artists/crafts people to show their talents, provide studio space for others to work and to do workshops because we kind of need something for people to do here, especially in in the wintertime,” she continued.
Malagara offers workshops that focus on completing one project for adults on Saturday afternoons. She offers a similar workshop for children on Wednesday afternoons after school and open studio time from 4 – 7 p.m. Wednesdays.
She also networks with other businesses on promotions such as a men’s shopping night before Christmas.
“My goal is to make this a town that you want to live, in work in and visit,” she said.
For more information on Expressions, visit the shop’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/machiasbayareamaine/, or call 721-0606. Winter hours are from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.