By Leah Sander
PIERCETON — Bret Bailey has retired after more than 25 years of teaching art.
Now he is hoping to educate people of all ages about art through the AAGES Fine Arts Center in Pierceton.
The center, first known as the Whitko Art Gallery, opened in June 2020 at 130 N. Main St.
Bailey had been winding down teaching when Scott Werstler, who owns the building on Main Street, approached him.
“He said, ‘Hey, I need somebody to help me do some art stuff,'” said Bailey. That led to Bailey renovating the building and curating the gallery.
Bailey is changing the name because he wants to make it a place for all types of art. The AAGES in the name stands for Art, Artists, Galleries, Education, Studios.
The revised vision is getting a boost this weekend with the launch of the AAGES Fine Arts & Events Center Arts Festival beginning Friday, May 7 and continuing through Sunday.
Along with the art display, there will be the indie band, Five Ever, performing in the space from 7-10 p.m. Friday. The band, He Said She Said, performs 6-8 p.m. Saturday outside the center.
There will be a beer and wine tent outside the center from noon to midnight Saturday. Visitors are also welcome to create a marble run, setting up a track for a marble to run on.
People also may make art of their own with provided materials. That’s from 1-10 p.m. Friday, noon-midnight Saturday and noon-4 p.m. Sunday.
Bailey’s also planning to have authors and poets read pieces. Those performances are from 2-4 p.m. Saturday.
Aside from the festival, future plans for the center include a summer art camp, and the Summer Youth Art Studio, for children up to eighth grade, from July 12-16. The program is in partnership with the Whitley Arts Partnership. Information is going out to local schools and people may also find information on the Whitley Arts Partnership’s Facebook page.
Bailey has already had some art classes at the center and hopes to have more in the future.
He plans to have more art shows and performances at the center too, having people perform “Steel Magnolias” in the fall. He also invites artists to rent space from the center to work on their pieces. Space can also be rented for other events.
To view art at the center outside of the festival, people may visit the gallery 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and noon-4 p.m. Saturday starting May 15.
People can also visit at other times if Bailey is there. To learn more, call 574-551-7132.