By: Jennifer Easton
Step inside Michael Keever’s art gallery and get ready to be impressed. Michael has a treasure trove of art that would make a pirate envious.
Worthington Galleries in Gallatin is packed floor to ceiling with ancient coins and prehistoric pottery to contemporary works of art and everything else in between. Looking for an authentic 16th century Italian suit of armor? How about an original painting by Pablo Picasso? Cam Newton’s signed Carolina Panthers jersey?
You’ve come to the right place.
“We’re really equal parts museum and art gallery. I often tell people that we ‘sell history,’” Michael says.
Originally from Atlanta, Michael is CEO of a Nashville-based venture capital firm with investments in more than twenty companies including the online nonprofit community, GodCloud.org.
His passion for art turned from hobby to business venture when his wife, Ashley, gave him an ultimatum.
“She said I either needed to open a gallery or quit collecting. We didn’t have room for anything else,” Michael said. “So, we opened a gallery and I put her in charge.”
They’ll celebrate their one-year anniversary in business by hosting a grand re-opening on Gallatin’s downtown square in July. The new location, in the former Marketplace at Amberleaf at 112 Public Square, will increase Worthington’s gallery size from 2,300 square feet to about 7,500. The new spot will have a greater emphasis on local art, gifts and will include a café that will serve lunch. The gallery will continue to offer framing and restoration services.
The Keevers will open another location in fall 2017 at 333 Union Avenue in downtown Nashville which will be nearly 18,000 square feet to house much of their 3,000-plus piece collection.
“We’re really aiming to be a destination spot for people looking for the unusual, one-of-a-kind and original pieces. You’ll definitely find things at Worthington Galleries you won’t see anywhere else,” Michael said.
Part of the couple’s mission is to educate consumers about the rewards of investing in original art. With the opening of their new locations this year, they’ll launch regular workshops as well as host special events.
“There’s a real misconception that collecting- whether it be art, antiques or memorabilia – is restricted to the wealthy and sophisticated. That’s just not true,” Michael said.
“Art is for everyone. Anyone with an appreciation for beauty can put together an original collection that reflects their personal taste and individuality within their budget.”
Michael says he learned to appreciate history, art and music from his parents beginning at an early age. His father, a corporate executive, and his mother, a banker, were free spirits who enjoyed taking the family on long road trips, Keever said.
“Instead of going to amusement parks, we traveled around the country going to museums and historical sites.”
“I later went to South America and Central America and became enthralled with ethnographic art and the history of different civilizations,” he says.
Keever’s collection includes pieces across all major movements, but his favorite is the High Renaissance period of the late 16th century and art that depicts spiritual themes. He’s especially interested in the Colonial American and Civil War eras, which is reflected in the dozens of artifacts from those periods on display at Worthington Galleries.
His best advice for those who want to begin collecting is to visit galleries and museums to develop their own personal style and an eye for what speaks to them. Buy what you love, he says.
“Art is powerful in that it can pull us out of the mundane, day-to-day grind and give us perspective on life, on history, on God, on life and things greater than ourselves,” Michael says.
Visit Worthington Galleries at 112 Public Square in Gallatin beginning in mid-July and by appointment at 69 Arcade in Nashville. Browse the online gallery at worthingtongalleries.com or call 615.527.7970 for information.