The HiBrow Gallery in Dade City has closed and will be moving to a storefront next door.
The move has generated hard feelings between one of the gallery's lead volunteers and the owners of the building, Dade City Mayor Camille Hernandez and her husband, David.
Stuart Marcus, the gallery's volunteer director, discontinued his association with the gallery Dec. 20, the day that Hernandez sent an email ordering that the artwork in the gallery be removed to prepare for relocation next door. Local artists had about two weeks to remove their artwork.
HiBrow Gallery, a co-op gallery operated by the Dade City Center for the Arts, was at 14125 Seventh St. The gallery provided space for local artists and also held art camps for children.
Hernandez and her husband had provided free space for the incorporated nonprofit Dade City Center for the Arts for several years.
Her email expressed no deviation from that arrangement. It read, in part:
"I would like to update you all on plans for the gallery in Dade City. The gallery and DCCA will be moving from its present location at 14125 Seventh Street, to 14129 Seventh Street (the adjacent corner unit on Seventh street) effective Jan. 1, 2013. I was hoping to stay in the gallery through the end on January 2013, but unfortunately, I was not able to make that happen. As a result, our transition to the corner unit which is larger and offers new opportunities will become the home of the gallery and the DCCA.
"In order for this to happen, all artwork must be removed from the HiBrow Gallery. … At this time, we are asking that you take your artwork home with you rather than store in the new space."
The mayor said the transition would "allow us to reorganize our programs and gallery operations to ensure a successful arts program/gallery in the community and surrounding Pasco County."
Marcus said there were plans to move operations to the corner storefront but that renovations were to be completed first and no renovations were done.
"This year we were supposed to be working on fundraising to make the space habitable," Marcus said. "The long-term plan was eventually to move to the corner so we could establish a permanent education facility, but we could not do that until there was air conditioning."
Marcus responded to the mayor's email with an email of his own, resigning his position with the gallery. His reasons appeared to be resulting from a stroke he suffered in August, but he said he was being politically correct.
"I could not abide the way Camille had done this," he said. "It was classless, heartless act to do this before the Christmas holiday." He thinks Hernandez has another use in mind for the storefront.
Marcus also questions why the Dade City Center for the Arts is a major sponsor for the Dade City Kumquat Festival, coming up Jan. 26. He said they were a $5,000 sponsor last year, but this year there is no open gallery.
"What is the point of having a sponsorship and no presence?" he asked.
The HiBrow Gallery is closed, and the website says operations have ceased. Attempts to reach Hernandez for a comment were unsuccessful.