Tyler has a lot of unknown treasures, but hidden downtown within the Plaza Tower lobby is Gallery Main Street — an art exhibit promoting local artists that is sponsored by the city.

For some, the lobby is a place of business meetings and study sessions. For others, it provides a quieter place to eat or drink outside the sounds of clunking glasses and whirling ice cream machines coming from the adjacent coffee, beer and frozen custard businesses. Gallery Main Street moved locations from Broadway to inside Plaza Tower in February. The city’s office closes at 5 p.m., but the Plaza Tower stays open past 11 p.m.

“It (Gallery Main Street) doesn’t shut down when we shut down, and that is a big plus of when we moved over here,” said Main Street Director Amber Varona.

Varona says that the move to Plaza Tower has more than doubled the foot traffic that the art has seen.

“There’s actually a large space to come and sit, to come and stand,” Varona said. “Come and get your coffee, your ice cream, your beer and enjoy some art. So that’s the really beautiful thing of our new space. Not only is it in a very nice, elegant spot, but it’s welcoming, it’s calming, it just has this nice vibe of showcasing art but also supporting our local businesses all in one together.”

The community living area is an atrium with a vaulted ceiling. The open-concept space is adorned with modern furniture and a variety of coffee tables. But no matter where one finds themselves in the space, the brightly lit art wall is bound to catch the eye.

“It really shows how art can activate a space,” Varona said.

“It’s so peaceful here,” said UT Tyler nursing student Jackie Enriquez.

Enriquez said while she used to go to a local coffee shop, the atmosphere in the Plaza Tower atrium was much calmer and less crowded.

Gallery Main Street doesn’t just show art for the sake of creating a trendy environment. Every piece of art that is on the wall is also for sale.

“The whole purpose of Gallery Main Street is to promote our local artists and to provide them an opportunity to not only sell their art, but to get exposure.”

Gallery Main Street displays art of various media, shapes and sizes. Every spring and fall, community members submit their art and a panel of judges chooses the best in show. However, every person that passes by has a part to play in the judging process. By submitting their votes, the community is able to choose which art piece deserves the People’s Choice award.

Artists who would like to submit their art for a chance to be featured can visit DowntownTylerArts.com to get more information, or to follow the progress of the various art pieces in the show. The gallery accepts most any art, as long it can be hung on a wall.

Digital Multimedia Journalist

Ben Fenton is a digital multimedia journalist that has worked at the Tyler Morning Telegraph since 2019. He is from Lindale, Texas and holds a Bachelors in Digital Media and a Masters in Communication.

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