Walking up postapocalyptic Lead Avenue to the Talking Fountain, I wondered for a split second if it was worth it. My shoes filled with gravel as I MacGyvered my way between a huge bulldozer and a man-made crater. The landscape was bleak. Like many business along the Lead and Coal corridor, the gallery has seen a decline in visitors, as it’s buried somewhere behind the pile of street-construction rubble.
Stimulating conversations flowed between neighbors and artists, around bites of baked pears, and prosciutto pigs in puff pastry blankets.
For instance, the gallery will host an intimate comedy event called Laughing Fountain on Saturday, Sept. 17. Comedian Kevin Kennedy will present his Anarkomedy variety show, which blends burlesque, music and stand-up performances. The show will also feature Sarah Kennedy and Matt Peterson.
Despite the renovation inconveniences, the gallery and its supporters are determined to put a positive spin on it. “We're handling the construction with humor,” says Calico between dicing chicken and welcoming guests. She's referring to several construction-themed characters created in community craft gatherings, including a series of orange cone personalities, such as Conedeliza Rice, Gary Coneman, Conestitine and, my personal favorite, Cone-an O'Brien.
The gallery's mascot, Manet Fountain, sports a hard hat these days and can be found gazing blankly at the demolition debris, patiently waiting for it to turn back into a street. (She has her own Facebook page if you want to check her out.) Friend The Talking Fountain on Facebook for regular updates on gallery happenings. For Calico, undeterred, the cup is half full. “We're not going anywhere, damn it!”