By Steve Lee
DADE CITY — If a picture is worth a thousand words, there is a whole lot to be said about the Uptown Artist Gallery in Dade City.
The gallery is the dream of artists Karin Best, Mary Sears and Suzanne Desneux. It opened Oct. 3.
“This is what we want for Dade City; to be an art center like Ybor City,” Best said.
The co-owners met at various art shows before they decided to pool their resources and make a place for artists to display and sell their creations.
“We had no money,” Best said. “We had to dig very deep. We were literally broke. If we can do this, we can do anything.”
To get the ball rolling, Sears cashed in her life insurance, Best and her husband cleaned out their bank accounts, and Desneux used her property taxes. They found a supportive landlord in Otto Weitzenkorn and rented a building at the corner of Seventh Street and Ross Avenue.
The women claim that miracles happen every day to enable them to make their dream come true. Not the least of which includes woodworkers Greg Morwey and Allen Martel. The self-described “Sons of Cypress” paid for the gallery’s liability insurance.
Best, Sears and Desneux obviously enjoy one another’s company and working toward achieving their collective dream. They jokingly call themselves, in order, “the instigator, the aggravator and the agitator.”
The gallery is part of a co-op — artists pay $35 a month for a space to display their art. If they sell their art, they keep all the proceeds. Co-op fees are used to pay gallery expenses.
“When they sell something they keep it all,” Desneux said. “People can deal directly with the artist, not with the gallery.”
Added Sears, “If I sell a piece of my work, I don’t have to give the gallery a commission. All I have to do is pay my monthly co-op fee.”
The women say that this is much less expensive than what a gallery normally charges in percentages for a sale.
“When you think you’ve bought a $1,000 painting, the artist walks away with $500 and he still has to pay for his canvas, his paint, time and training,” Desneux said.
The trio is not only interested in painting, but in art such as handmade furniture of the Sons of Cypress, sculptures and photography displays. They would also like to have poetry readings and book signings in the future.
“What we want here is to have community involvement,” Sears said. “We want children to come in and be able to learn about art, and be able to paint. We want to have workshops, we want to have seniors come in, we want to involve the community in this. We’re flying by the seat of our panty hose.”
If you go
What: Uptown Artist Gallery
Where: 14449 7th St. in Dade City
When: Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week.
More info: Those interested in showing their work should call Best at (813) 312-3264.