Creativity is cherished in our little town. Every year there seems to be more events and spaces that welcome creativity and expression. The Loblolly Festival, Central Creativity children's classes, and Hand+made work to give access to people wanting to create every single day. Whether you’re reconstructing a downtown park, renovating an abandoned building, or painting murals to show your love for Laurel, we hope to be the welcoming center for arts in Mississippi. That’s why we were thrilled to welcome Amy Luker to our small community.
Amy Luker brought a U-Haul filled to the brim, her 16-year old son and a dream for Laurel that no one had ever seen before in downtown. With her extensive background and passion for art, Amy wanted to open an art supply store that feels like home and less like a Hobby Lobby.
“We have a huge artist community and I would like to see us all get together, get to know each other, find out what other artists are doing, what works for them, and support one another.”
When she came to Laurel, she knew she wanted to be a part of it and contribute to the history that Laurel has collected over the years. She began to do research about the history of Laurel and artists in the area. People would always bring up the Pinehurst Hotel that was torn down years ago and how grand it was back in its prime. After researching the hotel’s detailed history, she discovered the Mississippi Art Colony.
The Mississippi Art Colony is the oldest artist run colony in the history of the United States and is recognized in the Smithsonian as such. Before the Pinehurst Hotel closed, the art colony met in the rathskeller of the building.
The rathskeller had been an old speakeasy during prohibition. When the art colony started meeting there, they said that they still had people barging into their meetings demanding beer.
“Since the Mississippi Art Colony was such a big piece of history nationally and the Pinehurst was so loved locally, I thought there was no better name for the gallery than the Pinehurst Rathskeller.”
Pinehurst Rathskeller Gallery is a home grown and on-going learning experience for Amy. She hopes that people will feel welcome to look and experiment with different products and materials. When she talks about art, she speaks from a perspective that every artist is a student– always learning and gathering more knowledge from other creators.
“I want to bring artists together and help encourage one another. I want the gallery to be a great place to hang out, enjoy beautiful creations and a place where artists can feed off one another.”
She also hopes to lean on her neighbors through the entrepreneurship and learning curves that owning your own business can have. The best thing is that Amy is not alone in her journey! Alongside her brick-and-mortar is her family’s business and Laurel’s oldest furniture store, Lott Furniture.
“The love I get from my downtown neighbors, friends and perfect strangers is my favorite thing about Laurel.”
She fondly remembers coming to Laurel in the summers in her youth and walking the streets of Downtown. In a strange way, she doesn’t feel much different than that young girl that worked the summers at Lott Furniture. It feels like things always come full-circle, and we’re glad they do.
Today Amy is thriving with her sixteen-year-old son, Michael and her little corner of Front Street. Pinehurst Rathskeller offer original artwork from award winning artists around the south, professional and hard to find art supplies like french paper, french ink, german handmade paintbrushes, Blackwing graphite pencils, top of the line acrylic, oil and watercolor paints, lettering nibs, and canvases.
“The difference between me and the big box art supply stores is I know the product I carry and can tell you how to use it and what it will and won’t do. The big box stores aren’t able to give you that kind of customer service.”
We’re beyond thankful to have the Lukers here and we hope to learn more from her for generations to come. Welcome to Laurel, friends!