Everything about Christie Thomas' Clintonville art gallery is relaxed, from the decor to the name: Art Pad.

Everything about Christie Thomas' Clintonville art gallery is relaxed, from the decor to the name: Art Pad.

Meant to invoke images of a 1970s-syle hangout, the Art Pad, 4969 N. High St., has a front gallery that features comfortable chairs and couches. Its centerpiece is a pool table.

The artists who show there don't have to be formally trained, and show openings feature beer, pool and music, Thomas said. Pieces start at as little as $20.

"The whole premise of the gallery is to bring art to people," Thomas said. "Art should be affordable. You don't have to have a degree in fine arts to know what's going on."

Thomas herself has a bachelor of fine arts degree from Carnegie Mellon University.

The Worthington resident and native moved back to central Ohio in 1996 to care for ailing parents and grandparents. She later decided to open her own art shop.

"I used to play store when I was little, and I always wanted a store, so I figured, 'What's stopping me?' " Thomas said.

The Art Pad opened in November. Its front gallery, the "Pad Gallery," features a more permanent showing of a variety of artists. Some pieces are favorites from past shows, while others are from artists who don't have enough pieces for an entire show.

The rear gallery features more permanent shows that rotate every month or two. The rear of the shop features a pair of gift counters showcasing Thomas' handmade jewelry and other jewelry and gift items. Thomas said she plans to add a part-time tattoo artist to the back of the shop.

Many of the artists whose work appears in Thomas' gallery are local, though Thomas admits that happens by accident. She said she just aims to show artists whose work is "modern and fun and cool."

"The artists don't have to be trained. They don't have to have been shown," Thomas said. "They just have to be hangable and unique."

Thomas said she is having fun running her gallery. The best part, she said, is having artists bring in new pieces.

"I think the coolest part is when people bring in their art," Thomas said. "It's like seeing something for the first time."

For more information on the Art Pad, visit the gallery's Web site at www.artpadgallery.com.