Tony Gregory and Christine Scarsella always wanted to own their own art gallery and studio. When they saw the property at 830 Caroline St., they envisioned a gallery there instead of an empty piece of real estate.
“We didn’t want to rent, so we decided to buy,” Tony said.
In July 2007, the couple opened ART@830 on Caroline Street, a block from Key West Harbor. Foot traffic along the Historic Waterfront and the Caroline Street corridor has been a boon to the gallery.
The two-story building houses the gallery on the first floor and Tony’s studio on the second. In the six years the gallery has been open, Christine said, the clientele has grown and many are serious collectors.
“Some of our new customers come in because they know one of our regular clients,” she said.
Christine, an artist is her own right, spends most of her days now running the day-to-day operations of the gallery.
“I really enjoy helping customers find something they want,” she said. “Sometimes the decision takes a few visits, but once in a while someone comes in, see a piece and knows just where it belongs in their home.”
Christine said about 70 percent of the artwork in the gallery is from local artists. The remaining artists are people the couple know personally. Christine said that knowing the off-island artists makes sure the gallery can display quality work, while maintaining a sense of connection.
The gallery shows an eclectic array of art from paintings, sculptures, functional furniture, glass, and photography. Some of the artists at the gallery include Wes Hunting, Nina Cambron, Marlene Miller, Alfred Phillips, Theresa Burns and Thomas Mann.
Tony came from the Baltimore area more than 37 years ago. His visit for spring break became his passion and home. Christine moved from New York 20 years ago.
“I made a living as airbrush artist,” Tony said. That included airbrushing human bodies during Fantasy Fest. He was one of the noted artists to display his work at The Green Parrot’s body painting contest very year.
While airbrushing fulltime, Tony honed his skills as a photographer and soon became known as much for his photography as his airbrushing. Eventually, demand for his photos began taking up most of his time. Over the years, Tony phased out the film equipment until he was shooting solely on digital equipment. Tony soon turned his artist’s touch to painting and found that the money from photography allowed him time to paint.
“I paint in acrylics,” he said. “I use a lot of color for the energy it gives to the painting. I call them cosmic abstracts.”
Art@830 is part of the first Thursday of the month “art walk” along Caroline Street from 6 to 9 p.m. For more information, go to www.art830.com.