Ann McKay has been an artist all her life. She opened her art gallery, Ann McKay Studio, in February 1999 at 441 Market St.
The business was originally owned by James Myer, who is a jeweler, while McKay was a student at Lycoming College. She would visit Myer's studio and got to know the staff, as well as learn the philosophy of art. When there was an apprenticeship opening at Myer's studio, McKay took it.
When Myer decided to close the shop, he offered the oppurtunity to all of his employees in the studio to continue his work.
"It just happened to be in my interest to start the gallery," McKay said. "I still continue to do designs that he started, and we do our own designs as well."
In McKay's gallery, over 100 artists' work is represented, from jewelry to glassware and leather bags. There is a a sterling silver gallery from various artists all over the country, as well as American crafts of equally high-quality, according to McKay.
"The gallery is mult-functional, as it is with the work that we carry," McKay said. "First and foremost, our goal is to promote American crafts and to educate the community on the value of fine craftsmenship in the United States."
McKay said her business is here to educate people about what jewelry is, how it's constructed and how to care for it.
Three artists, including herself, produce the pieces of jewelry available at her studio.
"We are people who are very dedicated to our work here," McKay said. "We are craftsmen searching for other craftsmen in the country who have really built their life around art work."
One of the most important things of McKay's studio is the connection between families who come in to her gallery.
"Jewelry is a connection, which commemorates birthdays, weddings, etc.," McKay said. "We have such a strong dedication to what we do here. We do our best to make sure everything is exactly what the customers want."
McKay said she strives to get to know her customers on an intimate level because she believes jewelry is intimate in itself.
She also is available to educate her customers on how to buy diamonds and gemstones.
"Nothing in here is synthetic," McKay said. "Everything is natural that we work with, and we honor American craftsmanship."
The studio is always changing, and there are always new products available, according to McKay.
She said it is fortunate that she, as well as her staff, can practice their art while the community help support and embrace it.
"I am so blessed everyday to be here and walk in (my studio)," McKay said. "I am so thrilled and so happy to be here and continue to practice our art on a professional level. We are here trying to do the best that we can."