Every year for the past 12 years, TONA has honored a local business for helping to make our neighborhood a great place to live. This year we are honoring two shops in close proximity whose owners have brought a renaissance of art to Solano Avenue. Patrick Mercer came to 1537 Solano as the owner of Nielsen Arts four years ago, taking over a framing shop that had been on the avenue for decades. Patrick remodeled the exterior and front “room” to make space for a gallery, where he features shows of local artists—sculptors, painters, photographers, ceramicists, and mixed media artists. Patrick continues to have a framing business, as well, drawing customers who want personal attention and an artistic eye in selecting mats and frames for cherished artworks. And he hosts interns from Albany High at the shop, helping them learn about framing and gallery work.
Tom Taylor opened his gallery Art Thou on upper Solano (the backstage entrance of the Oaks Theater) in 2009 and moved to 1533 Solano in 2012. He features group and one-person shows by emerging and established Bay Area artists, mostly painters, including the naturalist Peter Canty. The building where Tom is located was a dingy eyesore until he meticulously spruced it up inside and out, to create his inviting venue for viewing and buying art.
Tom and Patrick collaborated in launching the Solano Art Walk in June 2013, an evening when all art-related businesses stay open late, offer shows and light refreshments, and encourage neighborhood residents (and anyone else) to browse up and down the street. Turnout was great, and strollers had a wonderful time. Allen Cain, director of the Solano Avenue Association commented that he had never seen so many people on Solano Avenue on a Saturday night in his many decades on this street! The next Art Walk will be in the spring. TONA is proud to give its Golden Acorn Award to these two businesses that have enriched the culture and beauty of Solano Avenue."
Tom Taylor, left, and Patric Mercer, center, receive the annual Acorn Award from Zippie Collins, Vice President of TONA.