V Gallery fills Tamarack Gallery void in Omena

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By Abby Chatfield

Sun contributor

It was mid-morning as I rolled into Omena for a visit with Hillary and Matt Voight, proprietors of a new art gallery set to open this May. The sun shone down on Omena Bay, casting a dazzling light across the village and into the large picture windows of V Gallery. I peered in at the recently painted interior, its fresh white mixing with sunlight to illuminate the expansive space with all its historic charm and detail. Although still empty, the walls bare of paintings, it already felt like a place I would like to go to relax and browse a gorgeous collection of artwork by a selection of professional artists, all who at this point, have a connection to the local area.

In 2023, the Leelanau art community entered a void in representation as three prominent art galleries closed their doors. One was Tamarack Gallery, founded by David and Sally Viskochil more than 45 years ago and beloved by art lovers from around the world. V Gallery is located in the former Tamarack space. As I walked through the door to meet Matt and Hillary, I knew I was experiencing a unique moment in time, a mere blip between the old guard and the new generation representing art here in Northern Michigan.

Matt tinkered behind the sales counter as he pointed out the renovation work his father completed for the Viskochils decades ago. Matt, a third-generation carpenter, spends much of his time completing updates to the gallery. He is also an artist who previously sold his work for 15 years at Tamarack Gallery. Specializing in finished wood work, Matt is a true craftsman known for his functional art furniture and creative paintings.

V Gallery’s namesake is a nod to both the Viskochils and the Voights. “The Viskochils supported not only the arts but the community at large,” Hillary said. The Voights also wanted a modern, edgy name that was simplistic. (Read about Tamarack Gallery closing last year.)

In-depth discussions took place with their local artist friends about the gallery’s interior appearance, the best way to show work and, ultimately, what type of community they would like to be a part of. It has been a collaborative process from the beginning, according to Hillary, who shared, “The initial conversations of artists to feature were very natural, and we took recommendations from them as well—we are thrilled with the group we’ve assembled thus far.”

Their goal is not to represent as many artists as possible but instead be very selective and allow more space for the artists they choose. Hillary said, “When we began our initial discussions with artists we wanted to hear from them what they felt was missing and any challenges they faced. The one recurring feedback we received is that artists want to show larger work that they’ve been previously restricted on size for art center shows and certain gallery spaces could not feature. We are starting with a small roster of artists to give this a mindful approach.”

V Gallery’s spacious interior includes a side room marked for solo and group art shows, something the Voights would like to frequently happen. Some of the artists confirmed to show work at the gallery are Alyssa Smith, Cece Chatfield, Dana Falconberry, Margie Guyot, Melanie Parke, Richard Kooyman, and Matt Voight himself.

Matt and Hillary are residents of Northport and both grew up in Leelanau County. After leaving for college and living in Utah for a while, they moved back to the area. It’s been a long-time shared dream of the couple to open an art gallery in Leelanau. “We were young art collectors. We frequented both the Main Street Gallery in Leland and Tamarack Gallery in Omena,” Hillary shared. “Naturally we always dreamt of one day owning and operating an art gallery.”

If you know Hillary, you know she always seizes on a good opportunity despite a busy life with two young children, a full-time real estate career, volunteer commitments and the children’s dance program she operates. She said, “The closing of landmark local art spaces was a great calling from the universe that now was the time to begin a gallery.”

You can visit V Gallery beginning in May—opening date yet to be announced. The address is 5039 N West Bay Shore Drive in Omena.