Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

No place like the Castle for the holidays

Castle Gallery Fine Art at finest for Christmas


Chris Hupe

Whatzup Features Writer

Published December 1, 2021

Nestled snuggly in the historic West Central neighborhood of Fort Wayne, The Castle Gallery is truly one of the Summit City’s most beloved treasures. The gallery is open year-round, but if you want to experience it at its finest, there’s no better time than during the annual Holiday Show, taking place through the end of December.

The Castle Gallery Holiday Show is widely recognized as one of the area’s premiere art events with works on display by artists from all over the country. The show kicks off with a reception on Thursday, Dec. 2, from 5-9 p.m. inside the gallery at 1202 W. Wayne St., giving those in attendance the first look at what could end up on their own walls sometime in the near future… if someone else doesn’t claim it first.

The interior of the gallery will be ready for the season, beginning with a fully decorated tree stationed strategically by the piano in the front room, standing at attention and ready to welcome visitors into the building. Piano music accompanies the evening with Mark Meussling tickling the ivories while a cash bar, operated by Wine Time, serves up spirits for the night.

“It’s going to be a big, big party,” said Mark Paul Smith in an interview with Whatzup. “Christmas shows at Castle Gallery are typically well attended and spirited event, particularly after a couple of cocktails.”

2021 marks the 26th in which Castle Gallery Fine Art presents a Christmas show, Smith said, and it represents a return to normal for the gallery after a trying pandemic year.

“We’re coming back bigger than ever. We’ve got the best artists in North America all clamoring to get into the show and we’re already selling art as fast as its coming in.”

Nationally Recognized Artists

Works from CW Mundy, Jody Hemphill Smith, Don Lashore, Chuck Marshall, Randall Scott Harden, Beverly Bruntz, Jerry Smith, and Jill Stefani Wagner will be on display during the show, as well as fantastic pieces from other nationally recognized artists.

“Those names might not mean a lot to most, but they’re big names in painting and we’re proud to have them,” Smith said. “If you want to change the atmosphere of any building or any home, you put a new painting in it and all of a sudden, everything changes. We like to say every home is an art gallery and no space is any better than the art within it.”

Owned by Mark Paul Smith and his wife, Jody Hemphill Smith, The Castle Gallery is open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., or by appointment anytime during the week. The former home of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, the building had been privatized and turned into condominiums before the Smiths bought it a little over a quarter century ago, with an eye toward restoring it to its former function. They initially moved into one of the three condo, brought it up to par, and then continued to go through the walls to restore the building to its original size and structure.

“When we lived in Valparaiso, where Jody was a chair of the art department,” Mark Paul Smith said, “we decided as a couple that we would make a stand for art, music, and literature. There simply was no better place to make that stand than the Castle Gallery and it has proved worthy of that task.”

Book Signing Also Set for Opening

In conjunction with the reception, Mark Paul Smith will be signing copies of his newest book The Reporter. His fourth novel, The Reporter is based in a time when news told both sides of the story.

“It was formulated during my years as a reporter at the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette,” Smith said.

In the story, the reporter rises from obituary writer to covering community events and is eventually promoted to feature writing.

“The reporter is also a musician, so as his journalistic career takes off, so does his musical career,” Smith said. “What he realizes is that every story is like a pancake, it has two sides and you can’t eat one without the other. By the end of the book, he finds that his story and his life also have two sides.”

Smith went on to say that inspiration for this story came from his increasing disappointment and frustration with the parallel universes of television and cable news in today’s America.

“There’s Fox on the right and CNN on the left and nothing is balanced or fair,” he said. “Who are you supposed to believe? We’ve got to get back to the old days of journalism where you had to tell both sides of the story.”

Built in 1905, the Castle Gallery is a piece of art in and of itself. A 10,000-square-foot Romanesque granite building with a turret and arches.

“It is three stories of shock and awe and we live in it,” Mark Paul Smith said. “We live in an art gallery. There are no private areas. That is kind of a bizarre little existence. Not only do you have to keep everything neat and clean all the time, but you’ve got to be careful that you’re fully robed whenever you’re walking out of the bathroom.”

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