Bob Androvich lives across the street west of William Land Park. Bushes of camellias and trees curve into an arch of peaceful greenery leading to the front door and make it hard to imagine the hustle and bustle going on inside.
On a Saturday night earlier this month, some visitors sat on Androvich’s bed while others rummaged through his daughter’s Barbie dolls. A group gathered in Androvich’s office marveling at his collection of hundreds of vintage figurines lined up in 6-feet-tall wooden armoires. Most of the visitors were complete strangers.
One woman slipped into Androvich’s main bathroom, whispering, “It’s not wrong. It’s art, right?”
Every second Saturday of the month, artist Bob Androvich converts his home into the Bob Androvich Gallery. In 2013, the first time he set up the gallery, he put up two easels blocking the master bedroom and the studio to keep people out of personal spaces. Visitors pushed the easels aside and barged in anyway.
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“I had a pile of dirty laundry on the bed. I imagined people going ‘I wonder what he meant to communicate with this piece,’” Androvich said.
As the volume of visitors grew, Androvich overcame any discomfort and began including every room in the exhibition space. “Sure it’s an invasion of privacy,” Androvich said. “But if my house were a being it would be so happy. It never seemed like a happy house before.”
Androvich greets guests at the door and sometimes walks them around the gallery. He carries a notebook the size of the palm of his hand where he writes down names and contact information for visitors. Among the works on display are some by established artists Bob Miller and Leslie Toms, and many young up-and-comers such as Sean Royal from Carmichael.
Another staple of the gallery is Joy Gough, an independent art and design consultant with 38 years of experience who helps Androvich select the artists. Gough displays the art so that there is harmony between items in the house and the art, which hangs on walls or is propped up against bed frames and window sills. Upbeat music plays from speakers in every room as a way of assuring visitors that they are welcome in those spaces.
“When people walk into a gallery,” Gough said, “they think, ‘That’s nice, but what would it look like in my home?’ There is something very special about seeing pieces in a home and seeing how it will fit in yours.”
The gallery originated from Androvich’s own journey into art later in life. Androvich, a successful architect, sold his company, Brownie’s Blueprints, and in 1998 retired at 46. He struggled finding an occupation after that.
“I tried golf. Isn’t that what retired people do?” Androvich said.
Androvich discovered his talent for art in 2011. He grew up drawing, but he never fancied himself an artist until his then-wife labeled as “pretty cool” one of his digital montages made of clippings of illustrations taken from magazines and books. One of his preferred sources, National Geographic, felt like the only magazine his parents didn’t subscribe to when he was a child – to young Androvich’s dismay.
Androvich showed his art in a couple of galleries at first, but he did a better job selling it on his own to collectors, friends and other artists.
“So I said, ‘Step aside, I’m going to do this. And I’ll do it right.’” Androvich said.
In the beginning, the gallery offered local artists a commission-free opportunity to show their art, but with the July show, Androvich began charging a 20 percent commission to cover the costs of arranging the show.
As for his own work, Androvich is producing his first human anatomy-themed triptych, working on several commissions, and writing a biography of artist Bob Miller.