It’s been nearly three years since a downtown fire decimated the Thou Art Gallery in downtown Anamosa.
Dec. 14, it opened its doors at its downtown location for the first time since then.
The gallery held a soft opening for one day only, which KC Wortman said helped fulfill a promise she had made for herself.
“I said, ‘I’m going to open before Christmas,’” she said.
Of the 12 artists on the gallery’s wall, many of them were artists that have been with the gallery since before the fire. Wortman said the artists checked in on her after the fire to make sure she was OK and have been in constant communication as the renovation of the gallery has moved along. When they were informed of the soft opening, they immediately signaled their support.
It was also important, she said, to try to get rid of some of her inventory ahead of going to market in January for new artwork.
Since the fire in February of 2017, Wortman said she’s had tremendous support from the community.
“I have to admit I was overwhelmed with happiness, satisfaction, beauty, something...has been such a long road. I teared up more than once with emotion because she is beautiful, and it seemed like an eternity to get to this point,” Wortman said in a Facebook post announcing the soft opening. “Every contractor told us to tear her down, but we couldn’t do it, and it was truly the right decision. Thank you to all our friends and family who helped us get there but most importantly to Tammy Witt Mason who has helped us with wicked good fun every step of the way, literally thousands of hours and taking vaca(tion) to work.”
Wortman thanked Anamosa City Administrator Jacob Sheridan and Jones County Economic Development Executive Director Derek Lumsden for helping her write the emergency catalyst grant, which Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg toured earlier this year.
Wortman said over the last few months, every moment for her and her husband’s time has been put into getting the gallery ready to go.
“The last month I’ve been in here every day from morning to night, and Doug comes in every day after work. On weekends, this is our life,” she said. “Poor grandkids don’t see us.”
Still to go before February is to complete work on the trim on the building’s east side, which was closed off during the soft opening. In their work, Wortman said they’ve been trying to match the original stain, which has been a fun challenge.
Hanging above the entrance to the classroom, which is at the back of the store behind the gallery, is the window from the stairwell where the fire started that miraculously survived.
Wortman hopes to have a full grand opening in February. She hopes to be able to open Feb. 18, on the three-year anniversary of the fire, but said that she was not sure if that date will be possible. Wortman hopes to start up art classes again next month. They have been on hiatus as they have focused on getting the gallery ready.