UPPER KEYS -- When local entrepreneur Christi Allen's and artist Morgo Martin's paths crossed, they say it was the beginning of something indescribable.
Martin is a world traveler who captures her journeys through watercolor and other media. Allen is a Pilates instructor who owns studios in Key Largo and Marathon.
Together, they have opened Cherish the Keys Art Gallery on Plantation Key, just south of Plaza 88. Martin, who describes herself as a bit nomadic, has agreed to spend four years in the Upper Keys working for the gallery.
"I am definitely going to keep traveling, but this will be a home base," she says.
Allen found Martin in the Keys looking for work and soon they decided on forming the art gallery.
"A magical thing happened to us," Allen said.
Martin didn't always focus on watercolor. She also expresses herself through digital and acrylic painting, tattooing, film and design.
"I always like to do things my own way," Martin said.
Bankrolled by Allen and stockpiled by the young artist, the gallery will host a grand opening party soon.
"We are all vested in this gallery," Allen said.
The galleries paintings will be displayed on reclaimed wood from lobster traps.
Scott Kringeta gathers the used traps, then restores and refurbishes them as frames. Kringeta also provides other custom frames at the gallery.
Along with Martin's paintings and Kringeta's frames, the gallery features the underwater photography of Annette Robertson, a Miami native who has spent much of her life diving the Keys and exploring the Everglades National Park.
Prices for the art vary based on print size and accompanying frame. Originals are also available for purchase.
For more information about the gallery, call (305) 923-4345 or visit www.cherishthekeysartgallery.com.