Gulfport's Gallery Renaissance

Gulfport's Gallery Renaissance

Judy Baggs peruses the art at The Gallery. Co-owner Mike Knettel talks to her about the artist.

Several years ago Gulfport boasted several art galleries, but one by one they all closed. Still, the city always contained several studios and many artists – just no galleries.

Until last Saturday. On September 8, Domain Home Accessories opened The Gallery, a 750 square foot gallery featuring mostly Gulfport artists. The gallery does includes work from greater Tampa Bay and one house artist working out of South Carolina, Kimberly Dawn.

“It’s an incredible showcase of Gulfport artists,” The Gallery manager Mike McCue says. McCue, who used to own Domain and still works there, spearheaded The Gallery’s opening.

When Renee Originals, a longtime renter on Beach Boulevard, gave her notice, Domain snapped up the neighboring spot the same day. McCue, owners Bobbi Stapleton and Mike Knettel, and local workers treated mold, ripped out carpets, repainted, and created a gallery.

The Gallery, McCue says, is “something the community’s been asking for for years. We went from 15 years ago from Gallery Row filled with galleries and no artists. I think Gulfport is going through a wonderful renaissance.”

At the ribbon showing (The Gallery bucked tradition and opted not to cut the velvet ribbon), Mayor Mike Yakes praised the work.

“For the first time I was speechless since being a mayor. There was every thought, every dream I've ever had. Every thought,” he said, he saw in The Gallery.

Co-owner Micharl Knettel thanked the crowd gathered.

“Everyone of you,” he said, perched atop a bench, “is why we're here.”

Local artists include glass artist Owen Pach, photographer Mel Lowe and mixed medium artist Jonathan Schork, as well as a bevy of others. The Gallery features a cross-section of the Gulfport Art Community. McCue calls it “Bohemian.”

“It’s not a snooty, pretentious gallery,” he says. “It’s real work from local artists.”

Read our artist profiles of Owen Pach, Frank Strunk III and Jonathan Schork by clicking on their names. Look for our artist profile of Mel Lowe in a coming edition.

Read more from: Gulfport News