Life is so interesting I cannot imagine suicide, if only in order to find out what happens next.
I am sorry for this rambling content, but there are many things I want to say. After a very difficult couple of years, experiencing the complete collapse of the Florida housing market and its related economies (including the gallery market) I went for a drive. A long drive.
As many of you who follow our undertaking know, I circumnavigated most of the US, towing a U Haul trailer, returning paintings, visiting artists, looking at markets in which to open an alternative location to our beloved but beleaguered Sarasota.
I settled on Charleston & this week (Internet provider gods willing) we will open a new gallery at 11 Broad Street in the heart of the historic gallery district.
We had not intended to exit Sarasota, but after some long and hard business discussions with our selves & our landlord, we decided to close our location at 16 S. Palm. It saddens us to finally throw in the towel, but we simply cannot continue to accrue losses. Our landlord has been very gracious and we have many beloved friends, customers, artists and fans that have supported our efforts to bring aesthetically beautiful representational art to the region.
We simply cannot continue in Sarasota. We know for a fact people came from across the state & the region to visit our gallery and enjoy the salon-like atmosphere we have created here in Sarasota. It saddens us to leave, but frankly we need a more nurturing environment with a healthier economy. Our street was torn up again this past week, and the city seems bent on making it as difficult as possible to conduct business downtown.
I was shocked at the difference in Charleston, in terms of business climate & economic climate. There actually are people bustling on the streets down town, working, shopping, eating out, laughing, and buying art.
Charleston treasures their galleries and understands the draw they are for the entire region. The city of Charleston sponsors countless art focused festivals & events and every effort is made to expedite business permits and support local merchants. It would be unheard of to block off a busy merchant street for weeks on end as has happened to us over and over again in Sarasota.
It would be unheard of to turn the historic downtown of Charleston into a canyon of high rises with accelerated wind tunnels blowing customers literally off the streets as has happened to us in Sarasota.
The city of Charleston aggressively advertises & promotes their art district; its merchants work hard and advertise nationally as a unified body to bring people to the community. We started our business life in Sarasota as a city full of galleries. We are down to a small handful, certainly not enough to justify a monthly gallery walk. We have lost the critical mass required to create the kind of retail cluster we need.
My home is in Sarasota, & I love the city & my neighbors. I fuss like an old lady over the dismal prospects for the housing market & employment. I cannot see how a recovery can be in the offing for at least a decade…we cannot hold on that long, no matter how much I wish it was different.
So, we are moving to Charleston. We think, hope & pray this will be a better environment for us. We are so sad to leave, but we simply do not know what else to do.
While packing and unpacking I have found great comfort in a favorite poem by Wisconsin Poet Laureate Ellen Kort:
Moving Slightly Left From Center
Once every five year Uncle Jake
Gave it all away cleared out
The house moved everything
From shelves out of cupboards
Letting go he called it
Starting over clean as clouds
They laughed when he came to the door
With boxes of mason jars old books
His collection of wishbones
He knocked on the window
Held up quilts spread his arms
Wing-wise offering his new blue jacket
And then there he’d be
In that emptiness only the bed left
Like some crumpled wounded animal
Like something waiting at the bottom
Of sleep The bareness I remember
As a child how lonely it felt
How afraid I was that he was getting ready
To die that this hungry house
Would swallow him leave me trying
To digest the way lives fill and empty
They gather up through long dry summers
Gulping the daililness spitting out
Thick heavy vowels worry words
That link us to that one place
We’re sure we can never leave
I think of you now Uncle Jake
As I measure myself against what I know
Will come the air in this house
Rubs against me like a grateful cat
Purrs darkness out of corners and crevices
Uncle Jake your voice lies damp
Your bones swing easy inside my flesh
Packing packing this heart an open box.
I think Charleston will be great. I hope everyone will come & visit us there. It is a lovely city. We will miss Sarasota, the sun, our friends, the water dancing in the sunlight.
Packing packing this heart an open box.