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Evening at gallery to showcase work of Katie Gardenia

By Staff | Mar 10, 2020

The Tower Gallery will celebrate the work of artist Katie Gardenia during a special event.

“The Whimsical Art of Katie Gardenia” will be held on March 12 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Sanibel gallery. Her work will be highlighted for the evening, and Gardenia will be present for meet-and-greets and to talk about how she creates her magical fabric sculpture and fiber art that is loved by many.

A fiber artist, Gardenia is well-known for her fantasy art dolls.

“I’m going to have my fantasy art dolls,” she said, explaining that a sampling her work will be on exhibit. “My line of hand-beaded and felted foot stools and decorated one-of-a-kind pillows.”

Asked to describe her art, Gardenia called it “fantasy.”

“I just live in a fantasy world – from mermaids and fairies, to gnomes,” she said, adding that she has been creating the dolls for about 40 years. “There’s never two alike. Everything is one-of-a-kind.”

Gardenia explained that her inspiration may come from not really having a childhood.

“Part of my childhood I was in an orphanage, and I never had a doll. So at 32 years of age, I made my first one,” she said. “At 76 years of age, I guess I’m still trying to capture the childhood I never had.”

As the years went on, Gardenia’s art took her down new avenues and she began making upholstered chairs, the footstools, handbags and even scarves. She noted that her work is never really “done.”

“I can look at a piece when I think it’s finished and I have to add one more bead,” Gardenia said.

Most recently, she has been creating a line of animal pillows.

“They are hand-drawn with micro-pens, then colored with German chalk and watercolor,” Gardenia said. “They take hours and hours.”

She noted that she is not formally trained.

“I really feel like I’ve been given a gift,” Gardenia said, estimating that she has made over 4,000 of her fantasy art dolls. “I feel I’ve just been blessed. I am so blessed with the people who collect my art.”

During the event, she will also sign her “A Bubble Moment” memoir from her days at The Bubble Room on Captiva. Gardenia came the islands in the 1970s and opened the restaurant in 1979.

“It’s a collection of fond memories, short and tall stories, recollections and secret recipes,” she said, noting that the featured recipes are from The Bubble Room. “And, a lot of dirt about the locals.”

The evening will also feature appearances by the gallery’s other artists.

“I’m just honored to be back at the Tower Gallery. I was gone for three years and I came back last year. They were so kind to accept me back,” Gardenia said. “I feel like I just came home, Auntie Em.”

The public is encouraged to come out.

“An evening there at the Tower is just so much fun. Great music, the building itself is just a joy to be in. It’s just a fun evening,” she said. “And they’re not just going to talk to me, they’re going to see incredible art from the other artists.”

For more information, call 239-472-4557 or visit www.towergallery.net.

The Tower Gallery is at 751 Tarpon Bay Road, Sanibel.