Middletown man trying to boost arts culture with shop in former Music Club space

Soft pastel artist Chris McCall has traveled across the United States to display and sell his work for the past five years, and now he is working to build more of a local following with an art shop in Middletown.

Opened last year, the Chris McCall Art Studio and Gallery sits at 1015 Central Avenue where the former Music Club was located. McCall has lived in the Dayton and Cincinnati area for most of his life, but this location had a personal connection for him.

“My parents actually own the building,” said McCall, which he said came at a good deal and with plenty of space to do his work. “It was a good move for me.”

While finding a business location was easy, the next challenge has been attracting business. McCall said it has been hard to attract people to the store, despite his promotional attempts.

He also conducts business on his personal website, social media pages, and online marketplaces such as GimiGeek and Etsy.

In addition to his store, McCall has continued to travel throughout multiple states. In April, he went to California for the Desert Arts Festival, but he has mostly worked within Ohio and northern Kentucky this year.

This summer, he has displayed his work at the Ohio Yellow Springs Street Fair, which was very successful for him, and had his work admitted to the Purple Paisley Local Artisan Shop gallery in Covington, Kentucky. He does not plan to do another out-of-state trip until next year.

McCall is mainly self-taught, having only taken a few art classes in high school and one observational class in college. Following college, he worked in the film industry for 10 years as a videographer. McCall says he worked on hundreds of weddings during this time.

“After a while, I found the work to be very restrive creatively,” said McCall, whose parents have a background in film. “This work has been a lot more fun and creative these past five years.”

While he left the film industry, McCall still draws great influence from such science fiction and fantasy films as Fifth Element and Lord of the Rings. Once he has the idea, McCall says that it will take two to three months to complete a piece.

These pieces range it size and design, some taking place in deserts, urban areas, or on distant planets. McCall’s pieces fetch for anywhere between $250 and $350 on his website.

This weekend, his artwork will be on display at the Braxton Brewing Company’s Paradise on Point event. The shop is located at 27 West 7th Street in Covington. The Chris McCall Art Studio and Gallery is open 6 to 9 p.m. every day at 1015 Central Avenue in Middletown.

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