Update: The Indy has a short but spectacular piece of research on this, noting that Somerhill owes almost $200,000 in back rent -- and over $275,000 to artists that sent the gallery work on consignment, to be paid upon sale. Rowand, meanwhile, has continued to draw his monthly salary during bankruptcy, to the tune of nearly $180,000 per year. Read more over at the Indy's web site.
A BCR commenter noted this on Friday, but it bears repeating: downtown art destination Somerhill Gallery has changed its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing to a Chapter 7 liquidation, the Herald-Sun reported last week.
Such a filing would seem to imply the closure of the gallery's Roxboro St. location near the Hendrick car dealership and the new courthouse site, though we don't have that on record or confirmed in any way.
BCR attempted to contact gallery owner Joe Rowand on Friday for comment but a message to speak with the founder hasn't been returned as of this writing.
(We didn't hear back on a message left after the business' Chapter 11 filing, so we're not exactly waiting by the phone this time, either.)
The Herald-Sun notes debts in the initial filing of $1 million to $10 million, much of which presumably is due to their landlord, Scientific Properties.
Scientific had apparently long hoped to open a restaurant in the bay next to Somerhill in their home in the Venable complex's Prizery building -- something Rowand crowed about in a video recorded at the gallery's grand opening a couple of years back.
Has the gallery been challenged by the worst recession in generations? By the lack of the retail draw in the absence of a restaurant? By the relative inaccessibility of the Roxboro St. site, which is isolated by the jail, a railroad overpass and two car dealership sites from the "heart" of the city center and American Tobacco districts? By a customer base in Chapel Hill and Raleigh that wasn't ready to get hip with a central Durham site?
No idea. Our guess here at BCR is, probably some or all of the above.
But will this be the end of Somerhill, after nearly four decades -- or will Rowand, as at least one of the (perhaps hopeful) rumors we've heard suggests, look for a site back closer to his historical location in Chapel Hill?
We don't know. If Rowand calls us back, we'll share what we hear.