It started as an idea to to introduce little-known Long Beach artists to their community, and last week, Loiter Galleries located at The Streets downtown secured its spot as a nonprofit 501c3.
The certification allows co-founders Vinny Picardi and Monica Fleming to support local artists and help them showcase their works in a space that remains low-cost and open to collaboration with artists and other area organizations.
“We want to give back, and this is the best boots on the ground way to give back to the artists in our community," Picardi said.
As artists themselves, Picardi said that he and Fleming understand the struggles that come with creating art to make a living. Their hope is that Loiter Galleries will be a hotspot for neighbors to discover new talent and support local art and artists.
"When people say 'starving artists,' that's real and true to a certain degree," he said. "So we're hoping to be a hub where people can discover new artists and support them by buying their work, or following them on social media or by telling their friends about this new artist they found."
Most galleries charge a commission for any piece that an artist sells through the gallery, at times more than 60%, Picardi said. What sets Loiter Galleries apart is that the commission for pieces sold is just 20%, which helps cover the operating costs for the gallery while making sure that artists retain the majority of the profit they make on a sale.
Their gallery model has attracted enough attention from area artists that the team is already planning out future exhibits, he added.
"We have a lot of submissions, which we are very grateful for, so we plan to have a group show relatively soon," Picardi said.
The group show will include works from Picardi and Fleming, as well as other Long Beach artists. But first, the team has a special showcase kicking off this Saturday, featuring a sculpture artist that has never allowed his work to be featured in a gallery before.
Ron Leiter,a Long Beach-based artist who molds metal to shape his work, will be featuring 12 pieces at Loiter Galleries. The show will be available to the public beginning this Saturday, March 7, through Saturday, April 11.
"We're so lucky to have Ron featured in our gallery, especially because who knows when he'll be open to something like this again," Picardi said.
The opening reception is free to attend, and is from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday. It will include light refreshments and live music.
Loiter Galleries is open to the public from 5 to 8 p.m. every Wednesday through Friday, 5 to 9 p.m. Saturdays and 5 to 8 p.m. Sundays. It is at 180 E. Fourth St.
Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.