Aurora Gallery has been a fixture on the art scene in Annapolis for the past 30 years. The babies who used to visit the gallery in their parents’ arms have become the adults who depend on Aurora for the best paintings for their walls, the most original works of art to complete their rooms, the perfect gifts for their friends and family, and the kind of jewelry they wear when they want to make an impression. Collectors from Washington, DC, and Baltimore, MD, make special trips to add to their collections, and tourists find themselves surprised and pleased by the wide variety of treasures waiting for them in the little gallery on Maryland Avenue.
“I would love to see some energetic individual or group of artists take over Aurora,” said artist and owner Jean Ulmer Opilla, “but I’m afraid that is not going to happen.” Meanwhile, most of the fine crafts are on sale as she prepares to close her doors at the end of March.
“I’m going to have to do all of my Christmas shopping now,” one longtime customer said. “Otherwise my friends will be so disappointed when they tear off the wrapping and don’t find an Aurora gift box inside. I don’t know what I’m going to do next year!”
Although she has been the sole owner since 2004, Opilla opened Aurora in 1983 with three other artists—Catherine Frisch, Myra Sides Copus and Dorothy Vanous. Over the years the gallery has showcased the work of the owner/artists as well as other local painters and craftspersons and also introduced to the Annapolis market crafts from across the country.
The quality of the art and the breadth of the selections have been the hallmarks of Aurora, coupled with “just enough whimsy to make people smile,” as Opilla likes to say. Her own fabric sculptures reveal her whimsical sense of humor and her love of texture and color. The gallery has typically displayed the work of 150 artists and is particularly known for its collections of jewelry.