Gallery Luminaria Program

  • For Zanesville and Muskingum County young and upstart artists & entrepreneurs                     
  • A free sponsorship offering business management & marketing assistance and retail space

About Ron

Ron Cole comes from Los Angeles, California. Though born and raised in upstate New York, Ron thinks of himself as a product of LA after having started his career there, raising his family there, and taking in the Marina del Rey and Santa Monica culture for so many years. "It's a love-hate relationship", Ron says of the place. "There is an energy out there like nowhere else; like living everywhere in the world at the same time. I miss the ocean, our view of the Hollywood sign from our balcony, but I don't miss how all of that energy could leave a person completely drained by the end of every day."

In Los Angeles, Ron worked for several companies as an industrial designer and product development engineer. Mattell, JPL, McDonnell Douglas, Dreamworks and Disney all put Ron to work on new products, model making and art. "It was so diverse," Ron explains. "I was designing and making a toy bike for Barbie one week and some futuristic classified national defense contraption for JPL the next."

To help pay the rent (he says it was $2700 per-month for his small beachfront condo), Ron augmented his income by starting an online business. "Are you ready for this?" he jokes, "I sold used women's shoes. And I made more money doing that than I did exploiting my education and talents as a designer." It was called Shoebiz of Hollywood, and claims to have been the first of its kind on the Internet. "I used to spend my lunch breaks going to thrift stores in Santa Monica," he says. "Where others saw old shoes on racks, I saw dollar bills, twenties and fifties, sometimes hundreds, just sitting there waiting for me to take them home in exchange for a couple of singles." 

While in California, Ron developed a unique way to paint new artwork. "I was sending 2D work to other artists because I'd never completely made the jump from being a painter to being truly commercial about my art. As a businessman I needed to be more diverse; a one stop shop. Painting with brushes on canvas could only be pushed so far in terms of realism (clients demanded photo-realism), but digital painting was too stark and clean - it wasn't realistic, either. I combined the two, pushing old school painting as far as possible, then completing it in the digital realm." The results won Ron high accolades from his clients, such as Rio Casinos in Las Vegas and other big LA developers. "I want to leave people confused," Ron says. "It looks like a photograph, but the lighting, the composition. It can't be. What is it? When I get that reaction I know my time was well spent." 

Ron abandoned Los Angeles (that's how he puts it) in order to support his wife's own career ambitions. The move took his family to Zanesville, Ohio. Ron put his LA business experience to work with his new endeavor: Cole's Aircraft Aviation Art. He built a new web store from scratch and opened an Ebay store. In a very short time Cole's Aircraft had not only proven itself to be sustainable, it was succeeding beyond any of Ron's previous ventures. "It goes to show that if you have a good product and know how to market it, anything is possible." But Ron points out that his artwork is only a small part of his operation. "It's 80% marketing," he explains. "There are plenty of artists who are better artists than me, but how do they target customers? What do they offer that's different? How many of them put in fourteen hours a day creating ads, studying analytics, and creating a good product. A beautiful painting is not necessarily a good product that will make you money."

Ron Cole isn't content to spend his money on himself, though he does enjoy driving his red Maserati around town on sunny days. "Zanesville has a terrific art community with some amazing talent," he says. "I frankly don't make much money from my work in town, but I opened a gallery here, help the local museum of art, and serve on several local boards and marketing committees." It's about giving something back. "I know I'm this LA transplant with the associated stereotype that isn't always too far from the mark," he jokes, "but nothing gives me more joy than helping my new community, especially its artists. When you make your hobby your profession - you need to find a new hobby. This is my hobby now; helping folks get to where they can do what they love and make a living doing it."

In April 2016 Ron opened Gallery Luminaria and started an outreach program in support of young entrepreneurs. "It kind of breaks my heart to see people struggling," he explains. "There is a lot of that where I live now, yet I know so many people with great ideas and exploitable talents. Success can be only a few steps ahead, and often all it takes is a little boost."

(Republished with permission, A. Hasset, 2016)

The Gallery Luminaria Program

Gallery Luminaria was opened on the 4th floor of the historic downtown Masonic Temple Building in Zanesville, Ohio in April 2016. Offering a large, bright, space in a central location, just off Interstate 70 and located between the county courthouse and city hall - the city's tallest building offers many unique opportunities. Ron Cole's gallery permanently displays some of his own work, but its primary purpose is to showcase the works of new area artists and craftspeople, as well as offer young entrepreneurs a place to display and sell their products. The gallery participates every month in Zanesville's First Friday Art Walk, is open regularly for other events, and is in the process of working with other area businesses to establish regular weekly business hours.

But the Gallery Luminaria Program is unique in Zanesville, as Ron not only provides space in his gallery but also promotes the sponsored work of others online. "I show people how to create a brand; how to look professional, create a Facebook Page, sponsor ads, reach their audiences, design logos and stand out." Ron also photographs and professionally retouches images, and scans and digitizes 2D artwork from which Giclee' prints can be created or shared online. "I own two large format Canon Giclee' printers and create all of my own prints in-house (up to 24x48 inches, on paper or canvas). I offer that as a service, part of my Program, to the artists I sponsor. I also frame some of their favorites to show." Nobody else offers so much, and the cost to the sponsor is nothing. "If one of my sponsored artists sells a framed piece of theirs that I made for them, in my gallery or elsewhere, I'll only ask to be compensated for the cost of the frame."

The Gallery Luminaria Program is intended to help launch new careers for its participants, and doesn't stop at one gallery showing or single event. "There is so much talent here, and I don't know how many times I'll talk to someone, see their work, and know they could be doing something more with it if that's their true desire. I just want to help."

If you live in the Zanesville, Ohio area and are interested in speaking with Ron about his Luminaria sponsorship programs, contact us via the form below: