In November 2013, the nonprofit medical clinic Coventry Care opened its doors in the former Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Door County space. Its mission was simple: to provide free health care to uninsured or underinsured individuals.
Since then, it has helped nearly 300 Door County residents with a variety of acute and chronic medical issues, from earaches and sore throats to blood pressure and diabetes. Patients don’t pay a dime for their care, with Dr. Joan Traver’s motto being, “A ‘thank you’ is enough.”
But there is more than just a clinic nestled within the walls of the 1,600-square-foot building in Sister Bay. In fact, split equally with the clinic is its sister gallery and significant funding source, Coventry Gallery.
The gallery’s mission is as simple as the clinic’s: to help support the care of individuals in need by providing donated gallery-quality art at bargain prices.
So far, the gallery has helped keep the clinic in the black, with Dr. Traver and nurse practitioner Martha Coventry attributing its sales to helping the duo maintain the clinic’s equipment.
“If we sell anything in the gallery, we can enhance what we can provide medically,” Dr. Traver said. “Some of our machines are 10 years old. They are workable … but there’s always new things coming out that we could do.”
Inspiration for the gallery came from Coventry’s late husband, Russ Coventry, a commercial artist from Chicago who retired in Door County and ran Coventry Gallery, once housed in the current Blue Dolphin House & BDH Studio.
Dr. Traver was completely onboard with the idea.
“I thought the idea of having a gallery to support the medical clinic was pure genius,” Dr. Traver said. “Then we don’t have to run fundraisers, things like that. People can come in and see what we have.”
The addition of several room dividers, handmade by Coventry’s brother, has turned the former fellowship space into a full-blown art gallery with ample wall space for hanging art.
On any given day, customers will find a variety of art created in Door County and beyond, including oil and deerskin paintings, pottery, Norwegian Hardanger embroidery and counted cross-stitch.
There are also knitted hats, scarves and sweaters, as well as a variety of nativity sets, glassware and Christmas tree ornaments.
Most paintings include matching frames, though some freestanding prints are also available.
If manning the gallery isn’t enough, nearly all of the volunteers have their own artwork for sale within its walls. Gallery and reception volunteer Bob Appel’s talents in knitting, Hardanger and counted cross-stitch can be seen on the walls and tables throughout the gallery, while Coventry’s small paintings and pen and ink drawings also adorn the walls. Her mother, Jane Yonke, has also contributed several knit items.
Though not for sale, there are also several antique medical pieces throughout the gallery, including an infant height and weight scale.
Donated art and craft items are accepted during the gallery’s hours. Appel said those who donate must understand the gallery’s one rule on pricing.
“Nothing will cost more than $100,” Appel said. “It may be worth more but we’re trying to price things to sell them.”
Traver echoed Appel’s statement, emphasizing the importance of community support for not only the clinic and gallery, but the individuals supported through its mission.
“There are several things in here that are several hundred dollars in value,” Dr. Traver said. “We want people to enjoy the art. It’s a two-prong thing; it’s providing medical care but it’s also providing some art appreciation. Fine art that people can have in their homes and it’s affordable.”
So far, family and friends of the gallery’s volunteers have helped keep the clinic in the black through gallery purchases. The focus right now is to bring in the general public.
“We have very nice things to offer for sale and beyond it just being them picking up a nice trinket, they’re supporting people in need in the community,” Dr. Traver said.
Coventry Gallery is located within Coventry Care at 10547 Koessl Ln. in Sister Bay. The clinic and gallery are open from 9:30 – 11 am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The gallery will have additional hours from 10 am – 3 pm on Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 18.