July 31, 2019

KEVIN WADLOW/Free Press
Portside Gallery owner Valerie Perreault, a printmaker and poet, will unveil her new 'Summer Forever' visual exhibit on Aug. 15 in Islamorada.

KEVIN WADLOW/Free Press Portside Gallery owner Valerie Perreault, a printmaker and poet, will unveil her new 'Summer Forever' visual exhibit on Aug. 15 in Islamorada.

ISLAMORADA — As August’s heat turns to fall, Portside Gallery owner Valerie Perreault’s new exhibit reminds us that the Florida Keys are “Summer Forever.”

Perreault opens the doors to “Summer Forever,” her 12-work display of her printmaking art during the Aug. 15 Art Walk, the monthly event of the Morada Way Arts and Cultural District.

“These are meant to be light and playful, a celebration of the summer months,” she said. “Summer in the Keys can drag on, but there is fun to be had.”

Perreault is thinking big: Each of the dozen works — linocuts that are hand-carved, inked and hand-pressed — measures about 30 inches wide by 40 inches high.

“These are quite large,” she said with a laugh. “I know not everybody can find room for a gigantic piece of art, so I’m also offering smaller prints that will be accessible to everyone. It took me a few years to realize that’s what most people want.”

Smaller linocut prints, created by skillfully carving the mold to make the prints, will be available in sizes from 16-by-20 inches to 5-by-7 inches.

After Perreault’s period spent working on abstract art styles, she said the new show represents “a return to some of my earlier Keys-centric art. I missed doing some of the more playful things that people know me for.”

During the 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 15 exhibit, Portside Gallery’s events will include live outdoor music by Koty James and the Keybillies, and summer-themed drinks poured by the Sea Grapes Wine Bar and Bistro staff in the Portside Gallery Garden.

Around 7 p.m. during the event, Perreault will join other members of the local Well Read Women’s Book Club to celebrate the opening of Islamorada’s first “Little Free Library.” Readers can borrow and share books from an outdoor structure that resembles a cross between a small cabinet and large bird feeder.

“It’s a fun thing for residents and visitors,” said Perreault, registered as steward of the tiny library. “We get a lot of foot traffic here on Morada Way. Our library will look like a little Conch cottage.”

Perreault shifted her focus from working in a Palm Beach television station’s social media department to pursue her art and poetry career passion nine years ago. The gallery opened soon after Hurricane Irma in 2017.

Portside Gallery, 151 Morada Way at mile marker 81.5, oceanside, also hosts classes and special events like lectures, live music and films.

Summer hours generally are noon to 4 p.m. For more information, email portsideprintshop@gmail.com or visit portsidestudioandgallery.com.

kwadlow@keysnews.com