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Gallery shines spotlight on homegrown artists

Alexandria Art Gallery offers local painters and photographers a place to showcase their creations.

By Ebony Windom, Times Correspondent
Published February 22, 2008


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Genia Ward has no children of her own.

So the folks who display their paintings at Alexandria Art Gallery are her "babies."

"I'm in love with my artists," said Ward, who owns the Land O'Lakes gallery. "I'm my artists' most enthusiastic fan."

There's a ton of artistic locals, says Ward, 60, and more people should know about them.

So, Ward and her husband, Bill, use their shop to spotlight homegrown painters.

Kathleen Durham of Land O'Lakes is one of them.

She's a member of Pasco Artists, a group of local painters who meet monthly and rent space to display their work at Alexandria.

About four years ago, when the gallery first opened in Collier Commons, Durham dropped in to have a piece of her art framed. She later returned to show off more of her realistic oil paintings. Genia Ward instantly liked Durham's work. So she invited Durham to hang them up and sell them in the gallery. Then, other local artists followed suit.

At Alexandria, customers often stop in to browse framed photography and paintings by locals: Dave Gutcher, Peter Bonk, Gordon Engbretson and Madelyn Wise.

Each artist has his or her own unique style, colors and designs.

"Art is very subjective; there's nothing objective about it. It's as personal as it gets," Ward said.

There are a few big-name artists' work featured at the gallery, too.

But the Wards favor locals because, "They have talent and somebody ought to showcase that," Genia Ward said. "We've been wonderfully astounded by the amount of talent. ... I get a kick out of their work and seeing it sold. And I get a kick out of seeing (the artist) grow."

But not every artwork can get a spot at the gallery.

Once, Ward rejected a surreal painting featuring a naked woman. Ward has no problem with artistic nudity, she says, but "there's a difference between nude work and pornographic work. ... This one went over the edge."

So, she sweetly asked the artist to pick another piece to hang up.

"We are in an area (of a shopping plaza) where little children walk by," Ward added. And she didn't want to offend anyone.

The gallery also offers customized framing, among other services.

People often ask, if the Wards have no children, then who is the gallery named after?

No one, actually.

They bought the business from another owner when it was at University Mall in Tampa, and decided to keep the name.

"But, yes, I do answer (to) Alexandria," Ward said with a chuckle.

If you go

Alexandria Art Gallery

The gallery hosts a showing for a different artist each month at Collier Commons in Land O'Lakes. Visit www.alexandriaartgallery.com or www.pascoartists.com or call (813) 948-4447.

[Last modified February 21, 2008, 22:48:46]


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