Florida Keys Business
Sunday, January 6, 2013
in Wet Paint
Wet Paint Gallery absorbs 7 Artist-- and more

The paint is dry, but the artwork is always fresh at Wet Paint gallery on Duval Street.

When 7 Artists cooperative gallery closed after 10 years on Dec. 28, Jennifer Badry's island-inspired, Mango Season Jewelry Designs needed a new home in the Southernmost City.

So Badry created a new home for all the artist -- plus a few more -- at Wet Paint Gallery, a bright and inviting gallery located at 430 Duval St., below Key West's famed La Concha Hotel, at the corner of Duval and Fleming streets.

The renewed gallery opened Nov. 2, and has since been showcasing Key West-based artwork: paintings, sculpture, jewelry, glass work, photography, pottery, and fabric art that resonates with both locals and visitors at prices that are more accessible than most people think.

"I like to say we're 7 Artists in Wet Paint -- plus three more," said Badry, perched happily behind a display case filled with a kaleidoscope of her Mango Season Jewelry Designs.

She creates each piece by hand in her studio, situated on the two-story houseboat she and her husband built and share in Key West waters. Influenced by the cool blues and greens of our surrounding waters to the fiery orange and corals of the sunsets, the Mango Season jewelry line segues perfectly from a day at the beach to an elegant evening affair, Badry said.

"Get ready for a lifetime of compliments," is Badry's motto, and judging from the devoted clientele that seeks out her newest designs every time they're in town, it is the truth.

Turning from the display cases to the walls is a delightful riot of colors and textures in the gallery.

Vivid paintings by Pam Hobbs, Maggie Ruley and Lynne Fischer showcase Key West's lush, tropical color and character, foliage, water and whimsy. Ruley is also the gallery potter. Her tropical pottery can be found in many island homes -- and those that wish they were in the islands.

David Scott Meier's original paintings and giclees fuse charm with elegance, while EGG's fantastical sculptures of geckos, birds and fish steal the heart with their exaggerated smiles and toothy grins.

Michael Sanders' handmade clocks keep perfect "island time," Badry said.

Noelle Rose creates handmade, hand-painted fabric runners styled after historic cigar bands and Tony Scullin's captivating photographs of seascapes of Cuba, Mexico & Caribbean waters show us the ideal and idyllic combination of water and sky that lures peple into places they never want to leave.

Island favorite, Mary O'Shea's vibrant, fused glass jellyfish, hogfish and Key West postcard-vistas shimmer and smile in the sunlight, inviting everyone always back to Key West.

"Mary is in Portland, Ore. right now with her mother, but she's working, creating and sending us a box or two of work every week," said Badry, whose Wet Paint gallery is Key West's exclusive outlet for Mary O'Shea's coveted fused glass work.

Abstract pallet knife acrylics by Kristen & Chris Carol also add a new and vibrant dimension to the mix.

Each of the artists in Wet Paint will have a show in the coming year, with the artist present for signed editions.

The gallery is as comfortable and laid back as Key West itself, offering upscale artwork at accessible prices.

"I like to say we're nearly 100 percent local, and 100 percent fun," said Badry "We're just local artists who love creating in a town we call home. Each of the artists has lived and created in Key West for anywhere from 14 to 35 years. If you're coming here to our home, we like to offer a slice island life, a collectible souvenir, if you will, to take to your home to as a memento of your vacation."

Visitors to the gallery smile quickly as they meander through pure, pure bliss.

Wet Paint lets visitors take a piece of Key West home with them when the vacation ends and Badry always encourages customers to send photos of their Key West pieces hanging in their new homes.

When one gallery closes, another opens in Key West -- just a few blocks away, where the paint is wet and the art is always enchanting.

mmiles@keysnews.com

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