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New art gallery an extension of Russell’s talent of marketing and promoting

By Staff | Feb 17, 2016

Amanda Stirn, along with her featured art piece, has five pieces for sale at the new Island Conclave Art Gallery, which is owned by Jennifer and Kevin Russell. BRIAN WIERIMA

Ever since Kevin and Jennifer Russell started their Marketing Mania business in 1994, they have been helping launch careers for newcomers and veterans alike in the field.

Now, the Russells are delving into another aspect of helping others gain exposure and pursue their dreams with the opening of their new venture Marketing Mania’s Island Conclave, located at 5101 Pine Island Road on Pine Island.

“Jennifer has always been known as having a ‘golden ear’ for voiceover talent, so now we want to use her ‘golden eye’ for visual art and help others get off the ground,” Kevin Russell said. “We promote the artists here and we act as a vessel to expose their works.”

The Russells know exactly what they are doing in the world of promotion. They have very strong experience in promoting and marketing talent, albeit in the music or voiceover fields.

They started their promotional ventures when they were in their early 20’s in Fort Myers and helped local bands gain notoriety through live concerts and radio play.

That expanded in the voiceover field, where Jennifer was their first client as a voice actress. The art of being a voice actor/actress entails jobs including voiceovers from commercials to radio spots and from animation to documentary narration.

“We started with our voiceover (business) and it started with me, then we started networking with other talent,” Jennifer said. “The industry was so small back then and you needed studios to do all the recordings. We were on the heels when the internet exploded, so it became much easier to record and now you could do it remotely from another location.”

The Russell’s Marketing Mania voiceover business was built into such a successful venture, they became conduits to talent to climb the ladder in the industry.

“With the internet and the cost of equipment going down, you can have your own (recording) studio right in your own home,” Jennifer said. “We promote these people from all over the world and we don’t have to chase talent anymore, they come to us.”

As the physical space needed to run their voiceover business shrunk, the Russells began thinking of ways to use the extra rooms for another purpose. That’s when the foundation of starting Island Conclave sprouted.

So the energetic duo turned their focus from audio talent to visual talent and Island Conclave Art Gallery started to blossom in 2013-14.

“We figured we have a good eye for talent and now we had a venue to display in,” Jennifer said of the building which is at 5101 Pine Island Road. “Kevin said, ‘Why not? We can always spot talent and promote it well.'”

The Russells’ vision of an art gallery had several important points of emphasis. First, they wanted to promote the local talent, ranging from Fort Myers, Cape Coral to the entire area of Pine Island and the barrier islands, such as Sanibel and Captiva.

Secondly, they wanted the artist who represented down to Earth types and those who had “island in their blood.”

So they set out going to a few art fairs to get a flavor of who was out in the art community. They also made a social media blast for open vendor call, and started weeding through the artists who matched their goals.

“We have the ‘Golden Ear Syndrome’, now we wanted to use our “Golden Eye,'” Jennifer said. “Nothing gives us more joy than seeing people become what they should become.”

One of the artists which drew the Russells was Amanda Stirn of Cape Coral. Her intense and deep colors in her paintings impressed Jennifer and Kevin.

Stirn now has five paintings on display in Island Conclave and she couldn’t be any happier.

“It’s not overwhelming in here,” Stirn said. “(The Russells) go through a selection process and they give you that island experience. It’s not just, ‘Buy art! Buy art!’, there is no sensory overload in here when you walk through.

“People are getting more out of the experience.”

The gallery, which has been open now for over a month, has all local artists’ works on display. The Russells want the art to move, as well, and will give suggestions to the artists as far as pricing and such.

“There won’t really be a time limit we’ll give the artists to sell their art,” Jennifer said. “But we have moved quite a bit in the short time we’ve been open and sold enough paintings in our first nine days that we had to replace them with more.

“My goal is to keep this place fresh.”

Island Conclave is also a gallery for a wide range of demographics, from the serious art collector to the buyer who wants to decorate their lanai. The Russells are planning on holding special events, such as targeting the biker crowd, as well as an event for the reggae audience.

Nothing is off limits.

“We are getting the full gambit of customers,” Jennifer said. “We are ready to take risks, because to be successful in business, you have to take risks.”

But another reason the Russells opened Island Conclave wasn’t just to draw in people to Pine Island, but it also is to promote the area’s rich artist talent.

“We are giving people their shot, like in the voiceover business, we want them to go out and get bigger jobs,” Kevin said. “We are looking for that organic, down to earth art.”

Each artist on display at Island Conclave has a story, one which is interesting and it shows in their work.

The Russells want to get those stories and work out to the public, so the artist’s path to success is a bit more smoother. It’s about exposure in the art world, and Island Conclave is becoming a beacon for that.

“These days, it’s about giving back,” Jennifer added.

Keep up on the Island Conclave’s happenings and events by visiting their Facebook page or call at 239-282-8488 or email at islandconclave@mktmania.com.