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Dayna Thacker Celebrates Gallery Stokes' Last Art Stroll

By Gray Chapman

After announcing the closing of Gallery Stokes just two weeks ago, Dayna Thacker will celebrate her gallery’s final Art Stroll this evening in Castleberry Hill. Thacker’s decision to close the gallery was one met with a great deal of heartache from the Atlanta arts community. “I’ve gotten a lot of heartfelt comments about it,” she says, “and I completely agree.” But Thacker’s resolutely optimistic outlook makes it difficult to feel too melancholy. “I’m certainly sad about it, but I’m also kind of relieved to move on and look for other possible projects.”

Thacker founded the gallery with a vision to create a shared exhibition space, fueled not by finances but simply by talented artists exhibiting great art work. As a result of Thacker’s concept, Gallery Stokes quickly became a diamond in the rough for the Atlanta arts scene. “I think more than anything, there’s a lament that there’s not many of these kinds of spaces to show in,” says Thacker. “But I also think that in most cases, where there’s a will, there’s a way. I mean, I didn’t make much money doing this at all.” She laughs. “I just did it because I wanted the experience and I enjoyed it.”

The experience, according to Thacker, had its share of roller coaster-esque ups and downs. On the one hand, Thacker’s own artistic life was hard-hit in her efforts to improve others’. “If I wanted to do artist’s residencies, or if I needed to really pour time into getting ready for a show, or plan a trip to New York, or something that was more about my career, it was really a challenge to find enough people who could actually install a show or take care of the gallery while I was gone,” she says, citing her husband Rich Gere as one of her biggest helpers. “Even if I could find someone to install the show, I still needed someone to design the invitations, and update the website, and communicate with the artists… so it was never a case where I was able to completely leave.”

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