A layoff notice is almost never good news, particularly not these days for people in the newspaper business.
Nevertheless, two former employees of The Columbus Dispatch feel that being part of a staff reduction a while back might have pushed them in a direction they might well have taken, well, quite a while back.
Evangelia Philippidis, a former editorial illustrator for the newspaper, and onetime artist and page designer Kathleen "Kathy" Dlabick recently opened a co-op gallery on North High Street in Clintonville.
Galleria Evangelia is located at 4269 N. High St. in a former bank building and insurance agency that had been vacant since January. Philippidis said the name was chosen because it's a bit out of the ordinary.
"There's not that many Evangelias," she said.
The two, friends as well as co-workers, kicked around the idea of opening a gallery a few years ago, wondering if the time was right.
"Then we started thinking, 'Where would we find the time?' " Philippidis said.
Time became no obstacle when The Dispatch cut 45 positions in April, joining a long list of news organizations around the country that had been forced to make staff reductions.
"It was probably one of the best things that ever happened to us," Philippidis said. "We decided we were not going to be beaten. We were going to go on."
Had they been able to stay at The Dispatch -- and both enjoyed their jobs and would have done so -- they would never have taken the step of opening a gallery, Dlabick said.
"Sometimes life forces you into the path you should take," Philippidis said.
Dlabick is something of an everywoman when it comes to art. She does photography, jewelry design and some weaving, and even plans to play the harp for a special "Black Friday" reception from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 27 for people seeking some calm after holiday shopping madness.
Philippidis, whose style might be familiar to Dispatch readers over the years, said she was often asked where her work was displayed. Now she has an answer.
In addition to their works, the gallery partners also count among the co-op artists their husbands' creative efforts. Robert James, who is married to Philippidis, is a wildlife and pet portrait painter, while Dlabick's husband, Gary James (the two men are not related), creates hand-painted and traditional stained-glass works.
Others in the group include Leatrice Guttentag, who makes abstract glass creations; Stew McKissick, whose creations are whimsical "misunderstood monsters," according to Philippidis; Rachel Herberling, a graduate student in printmaking at Ohio State University; Brian Beecher, who turns out large luminescent bowls; and painter Keith Klegenburg.
The artists range in age from 11 to nearly 60.
"In addition we have a variety of handmade weavings, jewelry, unusual toys, soaps and cards," Philippidis said.
Philippidis and her husband live in Old Town East while Dlabick and her husband reside within walking distance of the Galleria Evangelia. The partners felt Clintonville made the ideal location for their venture.
"Clintonville is a lovely community," Philippidis said.
The mission statement of the gallery, according to the partners, is that they wanted to have a place where local up-and-coming artists could display their work, and also, by keeping commissions low, to make this locally produced art not only available to people but also affordable.
"If you respond to a piece of art, it should be in your home," Philippidis said.
The gallery's initial hours were limited to Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. because the working artist-owners needed time to produce more of their creations to have fresh items on display on a fairly constant basis, Dlabick said.
"Things are going to rotate around here all the time," she added.
During the holiday season, the gallery will be open five days a week from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., with Sunday hours remaining the same. A special "Black Friday" reception is set for Nov. 27 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and a Christmas open house is to take place on Dec. 18-20.
More information and examples of the art at the gallery is available at http://galleria-evangelia.com/.