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Gallery owner reflects on 10 years

By Staff | Nov 29, 2017

Maureen Watson, owner of Watson MacRae Gallery. PHOTO PROVIDED

Maureen Watson, owner of Watson MacRae Gallery, said a combination of factors led her to open her gallery on Sanibel, which is entering its 10th season.

“There was a natural confluence of factors that brought me here to Sanibel. It is the perfect place to open a gallery,” Watson said.

Watson’s “10th Anniversary Exhibit: A Decade in the Making” will highlight artists who have shown at the gallery over the last nine seasons.

“The exhibit is to celebrate and honor all the artists I’ve shown,” Watson said. “It’s a beautiful show.”

The exhibit will show new work from 30 artists from all over the country. Some of the mediums include paintings, ceramics, glass 2D and 3D art. The exhibit will run through Saturday, Dec. 9.

Watson MacRae Gallery is entering its 10th year on Sanibel this season. The wall was done by Karin Dahlstrom Kempa. The sculpture, “Celestial Movement” was done by Kirsten Stingle. ASHLEY GOODMAN

One of the artists, abstract painter Hollis Jeffcoat who has been with the gallery since its inception, will be showing new works. Jeffcoat who grew up in Fort Myers, studied at the New York Studio School and in Vetheuil, France. Her work can be found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum and the Morgan Library.

Every month, Watson shows approximately 35 artists in her gallery – a different theme is always featured for each exhibit.

When scouting out artists, Watson goes about it in three ways: the first thing she does is she asks her exhibiting artists for recommendations.

“I love their work and they have high standards – they know what I’m looking for,” Watson said.

The second way is by traveling.

“I get in the car and I drive to centers of different kind of art. If I’m looking for pottery, I’ll go to North Carolina or Santa Fe. I look all around,” Watson said.

Lastly, Watson scours the Internet.

“I look at other galleries to see what they’re showing and see if they fit,” Watson said.

Watson said that over the years, the gallery has provided her with a place to have a community.

“It’s enabled me to meet some interesting and wonderful people and to give artists an opportunity to show their work to an audience they wouldn’t be able to reach and vice versa. It lets the people see art that they most likely wouldn’t see,” Watson said. “For me, it is the most fun I’ve ever had. I’ve found the community to be very receptive and very supportive. It’s been a very welcoming experience.”

In addition to reaching the community of Sanibel, Watson now has an online presence. Recently, she was asked to join Artsy which is an online platform for collectors and artists.

“It allows me to reach a global audience without leaving Sanibel,” Watson said.

Many of the artists who have exhibited with the gallery are featured on the website. The second website, 1stdibs, Watson was invited to join is another online platform that deals with fine art, antiques, furniture and jewelry.

Watson said that this year she has a busy season ahead. Other shows at the gallery for 2017-2018 include “The Fine Art of Contemporary Crafts VI,” “Hollis Jeffcoat & Darby Bannard: Tale of Two Painters,” “Feminine Magic & Mystery,” “Beauty Heals: The Power of Nature in Paint” and “Summer Salon ’18.”

“It’s going to be a good season,” Watson said. “It’s always a good combination. The work I look for is high quality, it’s unusual and it has some spirit or feeling or soul to it. That’s what makes the difference between good art and great art is that the artist has to put part of themselves into the artwork.”

Watson MacRae Gallery is located at 2340 Periwinkle Way. The gallery is open Monday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information call 239-472-3386.