HALSTEAD — There's a new — sort of — place for shoppers and art aficionados to poke their head into in Halstead.

 

Mary Lee-McDonald has reopened the Tortoise Gallery at 309 Main.

 

"It's a lot smaller than what I had before, but it's so much more manageable," Lee-McDonald said.

 

Tortoise Gallery had previously existed in a larger location from 2009 until 2011, until Lee-McDonald decided to close it to spend time with her two young boys.

 

"Now they're older," Lee-McDonald said. "I just missed being here and doing stuff."

 

As the demand for commissioned artwork increased, the artist decided to reopen her gallery in a smaller space so she could meet with clients, have a retail space and be able to hold classes. Events such as a paint night, children's party and other classes are scheduled.

 

In its latest incarnation, Tortoise Gallery sells rugs, glass art, photography, paintings, woodwork, soap, jewelry, pillows and cards from Harvey County artists.

 

"I hadn't anticipated having all these vendors, but I'm grateful now because I just don't have the body of work to fill the space myself," Lee-McDonald said.

 

Her most popular creations are necklaces, earrings, floral paintings and Mexican smalti tile mosiacs.

 

"When I went to school to be an art therapist, in the classes, it was all about the process, and for me, it's still that way," Lee-McDonald said.

 

The artist will take on commissions and continue to serve in her role as the assistant director of Carriage Factory Art Gallery in Newton.

 

"I just dabble in different things," Lee-McDonald said. "I enjoy the diversity."

 

There was never a doubt in her mind that the Tortoise Gallery would be kept in Halstead.

 

"This is where I live and where my heart is," Lee-McDonald said. "People have no idea how many artistic people live in our little community. It's just nice to create a venue for them."

 

Though she has less space than before, the gallery's location and openness provided an attractive option.

 

"Part of the reason I'm doing this is the space is so affordable, which is difficult to find," Lee-McDonald noted. "I was really grateful to get the storefront."

 

The building, now known as 309 Main, is owned by Cory Harrington of Harrington & Co. Harrington has converted the building, which used to hold the Kansas Learning Center for Health, into a multi-office space.

 

"We're trying to return it to something that's workable," Harrington said. "It's come a long way."

 

The building now features exposed light fixtures, dark wood ceilings and floors, with a back entrance to access five office suites.

 

"I'm trying to give it a little more of a contemporary, industrial feel," Harrington said.

 

Having the Tortoise Gallery in the front of the building gives people a good view of all the artwork through its large windows.

 

"It's so cool. It's like having instant decoration in my building," Harrington said.

 

Tortoise Gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, 4 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and 1 to 3 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, email tortoisegallery@yahoo.com or call 316-641-3142.