BY JEFF LYSIAK, Island Sun, November 4, 2016
After eight years being located in the rear section of The Village Shops, Watson MacRae Gallery officially moved into its new space on October 18. The fine art and contemporary craft gallery is now located in the front corner of the shopping plaza in the space formerly occupied by William E. Wilson Fine Jewelry Design.
“I must say that the move has gone very smoothly,” said Maureen Watson, owner of Watson MacRae Gallery. “Other than my own anxiety, nothing really got in the way. It couldn’t have worked out any better.”
Late last year, when news that the operators of The Village Shops planned to add a 50-seat restaurant to the eclectic shopping plaza, Watson – who had been on a month-to-month lease with the property manager – wondered where her gallery could be relocated. In the end, an amicable deal to move the gallery to another location within The Village Shops was reached.
Now facing Periwinkle Way, Watson MacRae Gallery’s new space features an upstairs loft for storage, stained wood ceilings, cedar beams, blonde tongue-ingroove Florida pine flooring and uniquely designed walls which surround the open center of the gallery.
“This space is a little smaller than the previous gallery had, but we actually have more linear square footage of wall space,” said Watson, who noted that Ron Kopko Designs helped create the new gallery’s “look” while Joyce Owens Architects planned the building’s redesign. “It’s an elegant space – very warm and welcoming. And not only is this more beautiful, but it’s a wonderful place to show art.”
On Tuesday, November 15, Watson MacRae Gallery will host an opening reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. for its ninth season opening exhibit, Oh Florida! New artwork from seven artists – including Darby Bannard, Greg Biolchini, Owen Gray, Linda Hunsaker, Tamara Staples, Cia Thorne and Lauren Venditto – will be on display, with subject matter inspired by the natural beauty of the Sunshine State.
The gallery will donate 10 percent of all opening night art sales to the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF). In addition, Susie Holly from MacIntosh Books & Paper will donate a portion of proceeds to SCCF from the sale of the book Oh Florida! How America’s Weirdest State Influences The Rest Of The Country – which will also be sold at the gallery that evening.
Hollis Jeffcoat, a fifth generation Floridian and one of the mainstay artists at the gallery, has also created an Oh Florida! T-shirt that will be sold that night, with proceeds going to SCCF as well.
On Tuesday, November 29, an artist and author gathering will take place at the gallery beginning at 3 p.m. The Oh Florida! exhibit will continue through December 4.
Watson MacRae Gallery’s second exhibition of the season, The Fine Art of Contemporary Crafts V: Collection, will open on Tuesday, December 6. In February, the gallery will host an exhibit, Aviary: An Installation, with a portion of art sale proceeds being donated to the Sanibel-Captiva Audubon Society.
Following her recent open house reception, Watson explained that she is quite happy in an even more accessible location.
“I used to say people who are looking for fine art will find us,” Watson said. “But they’re going to find me a lot easier now.”
The self-dubbed “Sanctuary of Art in The Village Shops,” Watson MacRae Gallery is located at 2340 Periwinkle Way in Suite G-1. It is open Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 472-3386 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.