Lost and Found in Gulfport

If I hadn’t lost my way one winter’s morning in 2006, I wouldn’t be writing about one of the most exciting ventures of my professional career – my namesake Gallery in downtown Gulfport. As a ceramic artist from upstate New York, I was in Florida to sell my work at one of the many wonderful art shows the region offers. I became lost and auspiciously found myself on Beach Boulevard in Gulfport. I remember walking around, taking in the colors, unique architecture, and creative small businesses that the town showcased even then. But there was something else I didn’t place at first that struck me immediately once I stopped and took in what I was seeing and feeling--- there’s a creative energy field in Gulfport unlike any I’ve found, the kind that artists find without ever knowing they’re looking for it. I had found mine!

Creatively speaking, I grew up for 24 years in the fine art & contemporary craft world. I love the mix of fine art and contemporary crafts, which offers something creative and new for nearly everyone. After finding Gulfport and continuing to grow on my own artistic path for 13 years, I had a vision in 2019 to create a miniature art show – one that would feel like the juried shows I’d been a part of as an artist and loved to attend as a visitor. Learning to grow and implement that vision, and then how to articulate it became and remains my journey!

Luckily, I had some help trying to implement my vision. Two full months of renovating and designing the inside of the Gallery with my collaborator, friend and business partner, Cathy Fahey, was one of the most rewarding experiences of the venture.  Another friend and artist, Michael Eismont, was also on-hand nearly daily, both documenting the Gallery’s build-out as our resident videographer and lending a hand on construction tasks, while also offering great advice on the future layout.

My friend Dale Shirley, a master of merchandising who was to be my business neighbor at Custom House Decor and who has been in retail for years would come in to the Gallery we were building every day and suggest ideas for setting up for the general public. Though I knew art show setups, I was less familiar with retail flow and merchandising. This includes colors, accents, height of work and other design tips. Dale is the one who said, “You know you can put work all the way up your walls!” Wow! What a breakthrough. I simply never thought about it - that almost doubled my retail space overnight!

In May of 2019, my vision took form as I opened Brenda McMahon Gallery, a fine art & contemporary craft gallery that houses the work of 20 of the region’s most dynamic creators. When a visitor compared walking into the Gallery to visiting a juried art show, I knew I’d hit the mark. I also knew that the Gallery afforded me an opportunity to do even more than just house these masterful works of art. It's long been a passion of mine to offer opportunities to artists who have not had a voice in the arts community. In January of 2021, I began an Artist of the Month program. This is an opportunity for the voices of emerging, re-emerging and lesser-known artists who are building their portfolio to show in a professional setting with the power of a formal Gallery to present their work. This teaches professionalism to both artist and client and introduces a regular rotation of new work to the audience. The Gallery also began offering weekly Taste of Art workshops, opening the possibilities of creating art to all comers.

As I write this, we are gearing up for our 4th year anniversary celebration at the Gallery and, if you’re reading this, you’re invited! It takes place on Friday, May 5th from 6-9pm and I can’t wait to welcome back artists and visitors who’ve played such an integral role in making my vision a reality. We’ll also have a wonderful musical act on-hand with songs ripe for celebration.

Stay tuned to this page and to our social media for updates as we approach the date!

1 comment

  • Marlene Shaw

    I often say Gulfport calls people here…I am so happy Gulfport called you here. Every time I step into your gallery, my senses are alive soaking in the beautiful art. You and your gallery are a gem of Gulfport. Thank you for being here.

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