21 Aug 2014
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Gallery U Boutique Officially Opens in Westfield

The boutique and gallery occupies the entire Root Building on South Avenue.

Gallery U Boutique opened its doors on South Avenue West in Westfield on Thursday evening, kicking things off with a grand opening event. The boutique and art gallery occupies the entire Root Building, including the upstairs apartments.

Gallery U is an extension of the Universal Institute Rehabilitation facilityand many of the employees that help run the Gallery and Boutique are clients of the facility who are part of the rehabilitation programs.

The program started out small, where some of the clients would work in the shop located at the rehab institute, Vice President and CFO of Universal Institute Lisa Lasso said. But as more and more clients wanted to get involved it expanded.

“It’s hard enough for people to find jobs,” Lasso said. “Let alone those with brain injuries.”

The clients will assist in handling all aspects of the business from running gallery shows to social media and beyond. The program enables the individuals to mainstream into the community, Lasso added.

Some of the clients that work at Gallery U will be living in the apartments above the shop.

Each week, Gallery U will spotlight different local artists, as well as musical performances and poetry readings, Lsso said. Currently on display is an art exhibit, “Women Painting Women.”

The choice to close down the former Red Bank and Montclair locations came both with logistics and falling in love with the Westfield space, Lasso said. Since UIR is located in Livingston and clients travel to Long Branch for rehab, it made sense to find somewhere in the middle.

Once they visited Westfield and saw how cute the town was and how perfect having the entire Root building would be for their operations, they were sold.

Gallery U Boutique sells handcrafted jewelry, home goods, clothing items, pet items, perfumes, lotions, children’s good, stationery and art. Client produced art and goods will also be available for sale.

At the opening, around 60 people filled the gallery, with more filtering in as work let out. Lasso said the opening was going wonderfully when asked.

“This is magnificent,” one woman remarked when entering the space.

A cake by Carlo’s Bakery was cut to celebrate the opening, while other pastries were donated and purchased from a variety of Westfield business including San Marzano Pasta Bar, Ana Beall’s Tea Room, Crumbs and Bovella’s.

Gallery U is located at 439 S. Avenue West.

To work with Gallery U boutique contact manager Robert Langdon at rlangdongalleryu@gmail.com.  For more information, visit http://gallery-u.blogspot.com.

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