By LOIS KINDLE
Area artists and folks interested in their work have a new venue in their own backyard to show and appreciate their original art. The De Stijl Gallery in Ruskin is now open to the public.
Located at 100 E. Shell Point Road, in the domed building once occupied by M & M Printing and later by Mary & Martha House, the gallery is owned by Wolf and Cindy Spring. It’s painted in the colors and design of the De Stijl art movement, founded in the Netherlands in the early 20th century by Dutch artists, Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesberg.
In addition to providing a venue for original art of folks primarily living or working in the South Shore area, the gallery will occasionally feature distance artists. Its owners are especially interested in promoting young artists.
“Our charter here is to promote art, youth and ecology,” Spring said. “We want to encourage youth to be artistic, but to do so thinking outside the box to involve ecology.”
He plans to purchase examples of this concept, place them on the property and work with high school art programs and the Firehouse Cultural Center, which offers a variety of art classes.
The works of 17 artists currently are being shown in the gallery. The goal is to rotate art pieces and sculpture in and out every four to six weeks. There’s already a waiting list, Spring said.
Sometime during the second quarter, the gallery will host a free, art-appraisal event for the public with someone from the Antique Road Show. It will also feature artist spotlights, and Spring hopes to do a special event honoring military retirees and veterans, active-duty personnel and first responders, in which they can show their art.
“We are not a museum,” Spring said. “All work is priced to sell (at prices of $100 and up). We want to promote affordable art by area artists to area residents. We’re far from a regular art gallery.”
The couple wants to be part of the fabric of the community. They paid cash for the building and are committed for the long haul.
The Springs moved from Rhode Island to Ruskin to retire in early 2019. They had been here numerous times to visit friends and liked the area and its weather.
“We’d been looking at this building for 13 years and talked to Mary & Martha House about selling it to us when it became available,” Spring said. “We closed on it in January 2019.”
Since then, he and his wife have been remodeling the place. They converted the upstairs to fully functional apartments and offices, which are now rented. The downstairs was turned into a gallery and studio. Originally their plan was to open in 2020, but, due to the pandemic, waited until Feb. 25 this year to host a soft opening, attended by about 50 people.
The De Stijl Gallery is open Thursday and Friday from 4 to 8 p.m., Saturday from 2 to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. For more information, call 813-773-7771.