Artists unite behind owner after fire destroys shop, artwork
The local arts community is already rallying in support of the owner of The Art Corner, a popular downtown shop gutted by fire Thursday night.
It took firefighters about an hour to quell the blaze that broke out at about 9 p.m. at the frame shop and gallery, located at 264 Washington St. The fire burned works of art and much of the first floor of the shop, and additional damage was caused by smoke and water.
The shop is owned by Wendy Snow-Lang, who said she hopes to reopen. Snow-Lang bought the location a few years ago after working in the shop under its previous owner for about 20 years.
"We'll rebuild and reopen," Snow-Lang said in an e-mail. Quoting from the Clint Eastwood film "The Outlaw Josey Wales," she added " ... Endeavor to persevere!"
The fire destroyed much of the artwork created by Snow-Lang and her husband, Chuck Lang, who both exhibit their work regularly around Salem and the region.
Also damaged are at least 20 paintings and photographs of local artists' newer creations, from a recent exhibit called ‘Brand Spankin' New’ -- only some metal sculptures survived.
Snow-Lang said customers' artwork was stored under the counters and may have fared better, but it is too soon to evaluate the precise losses. The shop's equipment and supplies were safe in the cellar, which did not suffer much damage.
No one was injured in the blaze. Firefighters even tried to rescue some fish Snow-Lang kept at the shop and it appears that two of her three goldfish and a white catfish survived.
The hope at this point is to rebuild, Snow-Lang said, although she needs to work with the insurance company and the owner of the building before any plans are finalized. The store and gallery owner added that she would consider reopening at another location if need be.
A network of artists from Salem and the North Shore leapt into action when the news of the fire spread on Friday. Members of the Salem Arts Association are already discussing ideas for a fundraiser.
"Thank you, all! ... You guys are the best," Snow-Lang said in an e-mail to local artists. "We are dealing right now. Taking one step at a time."
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. The inventory of artwork destroyed and damaged, as well as the financial toll, have not yet been determined.
Customers and friends are encouraged to check the shop's Web site for updates at www.theartcorner.blogspot.com. The shop's regular number, 978-745-9524, is expected to be activated to an external phone sometime next week, and artists who had work at the shop are encouraged to call then.