A week after she announced the imminent closure of the Foundry, the art gallery she opened with friends in 2010, Christina Sweet was still letting the bittersweet decision sink in during an interview Tuesday.
"I don't have any regrets. I had thought about this a few months back but said no. Emotionally I think I dealt with it then, about three months ago. Paying attention to that mentally and paying attention to what I wanted to hold on to and living through it, I feel fine. I think everyone's in a good place."
Though Sweet said she was legal owner of the business, the gallery operated as more of a co-op, or club. The idea, she said, was to create a space where artists could connect, work and show their art. Members paid annual dues of about $50, but when Sweet realized she needed more money after a July rent increase at the 19th Street gallery, many members were not in favor and left.
"We were at about 100 members before the vote. We ended with about 65 after the vote. Art shows aren't doing real well. Basically, it's financial hardship."
A popular destination for the monthly First Friday art gathering, the Foundry was home base for several Bakersfield artists, many of whom debuted their work at the gallery.
"Some of our members who had only shown on the street on First Friday, we gave them a chance.
"I hope I taught up-and-coming artists not to be afraid. I hope it turns out to have been worth everybody's time. I hope people look back and say, 'Gosh, I wish the Foundry was still around.' I hope it meant as much to them as it did to me."
Sweet, an artist and working wife and mother of three, has been painting "through the grief," and is seeing to the details for the Foundry's last show. Artists will retrieve their work on Dec. 21, and the gallery will go dark for good.
"I will say that I feel a little relieved now. Just because things are organized through the end of December, and I'm comfortable with that. (The gallery) took away my time to create, honestly."
Sweet's only reservation about closing the gallery is that the city will lose another art venue. "I think it's not going to be as easy to show art. That's my only worry."