Sunday, May 27, 2018

Betsy Lenora: Owner of the Blue Cloud Gallery in Ball Square.

Betsy Lenora: Owner of the Blue Cloud Gallery in Ball Square.

Article by Doug Holder

Betsy Lenora arrived at my unofficial office in the Bloc 11 Cafe to tell me about her relatively new undertaking—namely ownership of the Blue Cloud Gallery in Ball Square. Lenora, 62, is the same age as this writer, so we were able to talk turkey—without the necessary footnotes that are sometimes needed. This longtime artist—who has traversed the shoals of both the Cambridge and Somerville art scene for many years—is still very much in the game with her stewardship of this venue.

Lenora has no formal schooling in the arts, although she has taken many courses on the fly. She describes herself as self-taught. I asked her if there were any advantages to this status. Lenora reflected, “ There are certain advantages. I never incurred any debt, and I never became pigeonholed in any niche.”

Like many artists I have interviewed she has worked a variety of jobs to make the daily nut—retail, restaurant, etc... But the most significant job she held, that was pivotal to her career was at the award-winning Cambridge Artists' Collaborative in Harvard Square. She told me, “ I worked their for seven years. I was involved in choosing the art for the store, and I managed the gallery. We selected and displayed the work of over 200 artists in a wide variety of media.”

All this of course gave her the smarts and acumen to own her own gallery the “ Blue Cloud.” The gallery was originally owned by Patricia Wellenkamp. Lenora worked there one day a week, but eventually was given the reigns of the store when Wellenkamp left for the hinterlands of Brookline.

Lenora said, “ We have a barrage of colorful work by over 100 local artists. We have blown glass, jewelry, ceramics, and more. The work is sold on consignment.

Lenora made it clear that she is strict about what work she takes: “ We don't cliched work—like beaded jewelry –for instance. This is seriously overdone. It has to be original and well-crafted.”

Lenora has a number of loyal customers in Ball Square. She is a favorite of Tufts students, and their visiting parents. She plans to have events at the gallery, including artists workshops, music and craft parties.

Lenora is an accomplished artist in her own right, with the requisite awards, gallery exhibitions, that comes with the territory . She also has a great love of photography. She does a lot of nature studies, and is influenced by the nature photographer Eliot Porter. She reflected, “ My forte is focusing on reflections of the surfaces of water. They create wonderful images.”

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