The Upper Keys’ first communal art gallery – Our Place in Paradise – is celebrating its grand opening next month.

The gallery will open for the first time on Friday, April 7 from 6 to 9 p.m. Guests will have a chance to meet the artists and learn about future workshops and classes while enjoying hors d’oeuvres and drinks. There will also be a raffle for an original oil painting by resident artist Kathleen Denis.

The following day, April 8, the gallery will have a Demo Day. Artists will host demonstrations to show off their unique skills and abilities. Demonstrations will begin at 10 a.m. and run until 2 p.m.

The gallery’s mission is unique among the Upper Keys’ art galleries, said co-founder Joanne Kolb. Using a collective approach, the goal is to “connect artists and work together to promote the arts, each other, and the other local galleries,” Kolb said.

“We’d like to see the space used for community outreach. We want to offer our workspace to other artists, potters and glass artists to come and hold their own workshop,” said Kolb.

The gallery is home to several artists, including Lane Kenworthy, a Florida International University professor and glass artist; Denis, whose personal studio will be a mainstay at the gallery; Peter Carolin, a multifaceted artist who also teaches oil painting courses for Florida Keys Community College in Key West; clay artist Frank Shaw; painter Robert J. Simone, who will be holding a three day workshop on seascape painting.

Resident clay artist Amanda Jorgensen is especially excited about the new gallery. The 10-year artist teaches wheel throwing, hand building, ceramics, as well as glass blowing. Jorgensen began clay art in high school, continued through college and eventually taught a few semesters of clay work.

“I think clay is a great way for adults to rediscover their childhood,” said Jorgensen. “It’s a very welcome distraction for a lot of people who’d like to forget about the stressors of life.”

Jorgensen first got involved with Our Place in Paradise after Frank Shaw made her privy to the facility. She later visited during the Paradise Paint Out plein air event. She said she’s most excited about working with the new equipment, holding her workshops, and experimenting with glass again.

Our Place in Paradise is supported by the Share All Our Blessings non-profit organization, which promotes, art education, spiritual encouragement and supports charitable needs in the community. Any artist interested in holding workshops or using the space may contact the studio via email at [email protected], by phone at 305-916-5828, or via the studio’s Facebook page.

Our Place in Paradise is located at 88711 Old Highway, in Tavernier. Gallery hours are Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


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