A 40-year tradition is coming to an end. This year’s Miniature Christmas, at least as most people in the Chadds Ford area know, is the last. And the person who started it all will retire and close in January.
Christmas in Miniature was the brainchild of Barbara Moore in 1982 when she was director of the former Chadds Ford Gallery. When that entity moved to Florida four years ago, Moore reopened the shop as Barbara Moore Fine Art Gallery in the same Barn Shops space and continued the tradition it had started more than three decades earlier. .
“I keep thinking this is my last miniature Christmas,” Moore said. “I can’t understand that, but that’s what’s going to happen.”
A month and a half away from retirement, Moore reflected on his time in the small Barn Shops gallery.
“It’s something I just can’t imagine. I’ve worked in this building for 46 years and not being here is a question of ‘what am I going to do?’ Not being able to fill these walls with art for people to see and communicate what 40+ years means to me in relation to art and especially to my clients, my clients who are also my friends…” She paused in his thoughts and reflects. “It’s time for me to go.”
But she came alive thinking back to the first two years of the exhibit when it was brand new. She said it took a few years for clients to figure out what was going on. Miniature works of art hung on all the walls of the gallery, on both floors, along the staircase and even in the bathroom.
An artist’s works were not hung together, but rather spread out. As Moore explained, if someone wanted to see what Paul Scarborough, Duke Snow, or Rick Bollinger had on the show, they should look everywhere. And even then they wouldn’t see it all because some of the art was kept in reserve to fill in the spaces left when people took the art off the wall to buy it.
“People would take two, three or four pieces from the walls and when they brought them to me to draft the sale, they would look back and see that we had filled those empty spaces with new art that they didn’t have. views. . Then they should go back to see what they missed,” Moore said.
She added that the same thing happened in the second year, but people were starting to understand. Moore would go upstairs to get some new work to hang in the empty spaces, but by then people were waiting for her at the bottom of the stairs to see what new pieces she was bringing.
“Those first two years were exciting, not that it’s not more exciting now, it’s just not the same because it was so fresh and new then, like a romance,” he said. she stated.
Moore previously worked with her ex-husband at a body and fender shop for six years, and in some ways that prepared her to run an art gallery. She said that although she has never done body work on the cars, she would inspect the finished product, paying attention to detail and saying yes or no to the job before calling the client. She likened it to examining her makeup.
But she needed a job after the marriage ended. Former Chadds Ford Gallery owner Shirley Winther hired Moore to run the shop in 1976. Winther said in a 2002 interview for the 21st Christmas in Miniature that Moore “is really good”.
Moore said she got the idea for the miniatures to help young adults without a lot of money afford original works of art. She said many bought cheap reproductions and liked how they looked when matted and framed, but she thought they could do better.
They looked at the work of their favorite artists, like Andy Wyeth, but they couldn’t afford those pieces, Moore said.
“I started wondering how I could steer young couples away from these $25-$35 reproductions and move them to original works of art. So I thought, small parts. They can start there. »
The idea caught on with its customers. Parents and grandparents would eventually buy the cheapest small pieces for their children and grandchildren, allowing them to start buying and collecting original artwork from respected professional artists, and Moore is proud to have served three generations of art buyers.
Over the years, there have been characters that have come into the gallery, and not just the quirkiness associated with artists. Customers also have color to offer. Moore said there was a person who would tell him how to hang toilet paper, making sure there was a little overhang so people could get it more easily. Or the woman who wanted Moore to follow her up the stairs so Moore could catch her if she lost her balance. And walk in front of her when she got off for the same reason.
Moore’s expertise and knowledge of the local art scene kept her going when Chadds Ford Gallery moved in 2017. She was able to keep the gallery as her own when she and Bri Brandt, the owner of Arden and James who designs and manufactures handbags. , have joined forces to share the space of the former gallery. But that, too, is coming to an end with Moore’s retirement.
“I opened my shop in Chadds Ford to keep Barbara’s first-hand knowledge of Chadds Ford history, art and culture here in the village. I am so proud of what we have achieved together” , Brandt said in an email.
For now, however, the focus is on Moore and Christmas in miniature. The swan song for the 40-year tradition begins on Wednesday, December 1 and continues through December 31. Two weeks later, on January 15, the Barbara Moore Fine Art Gallery will close its doors for good.
What will Moore do now? She moved to Delaware a few years ago and has a view of ships sailing the river.
“I will sit and watch the boats go by [what she calls] Riva Delaware.”