SOMERVILLE, NJ –Shaun Daley and partner Michele Mundt, owners of Gallery on Main, are just a few days away from introducing an artistic flair to the ever-evolving character of Main Street.
They've already redefined the traditional definition of eclectic.
Take one step inside Somerville’s newest downtown business and the word eclectic seems like it’s plastered on every wall, an explosion of color, shape, functionality, history and utilitarianism – and by extension, a sensory smorgasbord of fine art and kitschy antiques, oddball collectibles, high end furniture and vintage household items.
“Ideally, what we are looking for are things you just don’t see on a regular basis,” Daley said. “We are striving for an eclectic mix.
“You know what they say about antiques,” he added. “The time to buy it is when you see it because you never know when the opportunity to acquire it will present itself again.”
Yes, that’s Mr. Magoo sitting next to Humpty Dumpy on one shelf; a WWII-era gas mask shares shelf space with a Cuss Box, a woodworker’s plane and vintage steam iron. A rare Keystone Lantern tricycle and wooden wagon hand-carved by a local artisan share floor space with a European mahogany and glass display cabinet, writing desk.piano bench and corner chairs.
In the corner is a fireman’s padded coat that still smells of smoke; another corner has a fully functional dress form. Against the wall is a vintage hand-painted phone closet and bench; one dozen African tribal masks adorn the walls and inside a glass display cabinet is a vintage mineral water bottle from a plant in Somerville and a set of collectible dolls still in their original boxes. There are vintage maps and vintage photographs.
A vintage European porcelain clock keeps time and chimes on the hour sitting atop a mantel, surrounded by artwork by Daley and a growing family of local artists whose works will be displayed on a continual basis.
Daley has also contributed his game-worn helmet from his days playing football at Immaculata High School, as well as several canvases from his personal collection, each one exploding with shapes, forms and a blend of warm, comfortable colors.
Located at 30 West Main St., Daley and Mundt expect a “soft” opening either Wednesday, April 13th or Thursday, April 14th , with the official opening and reception 6-9 p.m. on Friday, May 7th.
Daley, a former resident of Hillsborough who now lives in Somerset, is an artist with extensive experience working in galleries; Mundt is a longtime friend, who lives in Hillsborough and works in finance at AT&T. Her children, 16 and 18, will be tutored by Daley on the fine points of framing and photo restoration.
In addition to framing, frame restoration including 24K gold leafing and photo restoration, the partners expect to take in pocket watch and clock repairs and offer ceramic and glass restoration.
“We had looked at a lot of different locations over the course of a year and found that Someville gave us the best opportunity, the best main street in our area and we just knew that with all the revitalization going on, it’s definitely the place to be,” Daley said.
“We chose Somerville because we love the feel it has; what we have is going to fit right in,” Mundt said. “I grew up going into Somerville shopping with my mom and grandmother, going to Woolworth’s, having lunch there, I just grew to love the town,” she added.
The Woolworth building is now occupied by the Somerville Antiques Center, just a few doors away from Gallery on Main.
“About 10 years ago we had an idea to open a gallery,” she explained. “I had wanted to open something similar and wanted to call it Starving Artist.
“I knew a lot of friends that were artists and I just always felt it was a shame that they were unrecognized,” Mundt continued. “Shaun and I have been friends since our freshmen year in high school. I knew he was very talented and would love to have his own thing, but something like this is tough to get off the ground.
“Finally, we said, ‘when are we going to stop talking about it and just do it.’ We’ve been in full motion since August last year and it’s just been a whirlwind,” Mundt said.
Daley and Mundt are on the cusp of realizing their dream - to own and operate a hybrid art gallery and antiques store which will also feature framing, photo restoration, one-man art exhibits and juried art shows.
“We will have at least four local artists in the store when we open our doors,” Daley said. “We plan to be doing an artist of the month, with multiple pieces in the store each month and one or two juried exhibitions a year for paintings, photographers, sculptors and we’ll have judges for the juried shows.”
Unlike some antiques stores that are cluttered and dust-covered, Gallery on Main takes a different approach.
“It’s not the typical antique shop that’s filled to capacity; we’ve tried to make it so that you don’t miss anything,” Daley said.