New owner aims to make Mechanicsburg area an art destination

by Stephanie Kalina-Metzger For The Sentinel

12010487_10153600053093762_8064408203631531175_oMECHANICSBURG — The sturdy brick building located at 105 S. Market St., in Mechanicsburg, dates back to the 1800s and has withstood the test of time, once operating as a union field hospital and more recently as a place of worship for Presbyterians. When the congregation relocated, Jeffrey Van Boskirk repurposed the space, and in 2002 transformed it into a showcase for art lovers.

Almost immediately, the community embraced the “2nd Floor Gallery,” which has won numerous awards, including “Simply the Best” award for an art gallery in the Harrisburg area for four years in a row.

When Van Boskirk decided it was time to move in a different direction, he contacted local entrepreneur Lawrence Knorr about acquiring his 5,000-square-foot gallery. The two struck a mutually beneficial deal, and Knorr took over the business effective Sept. 1.

Knorr, who is also a photographer, was no stranger to the art scene, having shown his work at 2nd Floor Gallery for the past 10 years. Nor was he a stranger to the gallery scene, having owned the West Shore Gallery in Wormleysburg. “I’ve always had this desire to try it again,” he said of the new venture.

The area businessman, who also owns nearby Sunbury Press and works as an adjunct professor of economics at York College, hit the ground running after the deal was sealed. He began working on giving the building a face lift. New paint and landscaping spruced up the old environment and worn rugs gave way to newly refurbished hardwood floors.

Turn-of-the century stained glass windows and high ceilings continue to create a spacious, bright, welcoming environment in which to view the nearly 500 pieces of local, regional and international art created by about 50 artists.

Knorr is keeping the business open during the renovation process, but is anxious to set the wheels in motion for upcoming endeavors, which include an art competition.

“When I owned the West Shore Gallery, I ran a competition called ‘River Art: Susquehanna International Fine Art Competition,’” said Knorr, whose plans are to bring a similar competition to 2nd Floor Gallery to broaden the audience. “We want to attract people from all over and make this place an East Coast Art Destination.”

Other plans include putting out a call to artists for new artwork, creating a blog for the gallery and featuring a page for each artist on the gallery website. Knorr plans to remain flexible throughout the process of reinventing the 2nd Floor Gallery. “We want to try to be in tune with what is desirable to our target market and adjust accordingly,” he said.

Also in the works is a commission service. “If someone wants a portrait of a family member, house or pet, we’ll have artists who can do that, as well,” Knorr said.

As for long-term goals, Knorr plans to integrate his publishing company, Sunbury Press, into the 2nd Floor Gallery. “We’ll likely be bringing the bookstore into the gallery and co-mingling the two on the first floor, where we’ll hold author events,” he said.

Julie Riker, an area artist who hails from Mechanicsburg, said she’s excited about the new plans for the gallery and enjoys showing her work in her hometown. Visitors can view her oil paintings, which include a mix of landscapes and still life, on the second floor of the gallery.

“Lawrence is a good businessman, has some great ideas, and I am confident he will do a fantastic job,” she said.

To learn more, visit the 2nd Floor Gallery website at http://www.2ndfloorgallery.com.

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