Now that she has added the title “small-business owner” to her work history, jewelry maker and handbag designer Jennifer Swarts has mastered a new skill: time management.
“It’s interesting finding the time to do both and do both well,” said Swarts, who celebrates the opening of the Portland gallery Casco Bay Artisans with a sale to benefit the Cancer Community Center from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday. “I think what I have learned so far is that the greatest challenge is doing one’s own work.”
Swarts and business partner Tina Dinsmore opened the gallery at 63 Market St. in June.
The gallery business is new for both women. Neither has owned or even worked in an art gallery before. Both are working artists with similar tastes and sensibilities, and they share a belief about how a gallery should look and feel.
Casco Bay Artisans, on the second level above Market Street, has an open, urban feel, with two floors of art hanging on walls and displayed on pedestals. It opened in the space of a previous gallery, between the White Cap Grille and the now-closed music club the Big Easy.
“This has been my vision and my dream for a long time,” Dinsmore said. “I saw the space first and my heart started racing. It was perfect for what we had in mind.”
The original vision involved a jewelry gallery featuring the work of the two co-founders, plus a working studio. The studio is the trick that helps Swarts and Dinsmore stay productive. They can accomplish their own work on the jewelry bench while attending to gallery business.
But with two floors, the gallery was too large for their work alone.
The cancer-benefit sale will feature the jewelry of Swarts and Dinsmore, as well as a variety of work from many of their artist friends. Among them, Julie Doughty exhibits found-object sculptures; Paul Brahms shows oil paintings of island scenes; Douglas Wood has several black-and-white photos. Late last week, Tim Pelletier dropped off a bunch of sculptural clocks.
“We try to show the work of people we like, that fits with the theme and feel of the gallery as a whole,” Swarts said. “When we look at art, we think, ‘What’s beautiful?’ What would we like to see hanging on our walls at home?’ That’s our standard.”
Other artists with work in the show: Carrie Bracker, mosaics; Louise Price, watercolors; Elizabeth Budington, photos; Thea Demitre, fused art; Karen Feld, terracotta sculptures; Danielle Gerber, bronze sculptures; Ziggy Hartfelder, photos; Patricia Rizzo, acrylic paintings; Shawn Winslow; bronze sculptures; Audrey VanDyke, paintings; Randy Hazelton, photos; Thomas Miffin, soapstone sculptures; Kevin Misner, oil paintings; Colleen Park, paintings, Nick Schremmer, glass art; Corey Templeton, photos; Jim Williams, paintings; Ronnie Wilson, paintings; Maya Travaglia, flat glass; Paula Ashton, textiles; Jeanie McAlaney, granite art.
The women behind Casco Bay Artisans teamed with the Cancer Community Center because both have friends diagnosed with cancer. A portion of proceeds from the Thursday sale will benefit the South Portland-based Cancer Community Center. The Center helps adults coping with cancer through support, information and activities, said Jennifer Nelson, the center’s development director.
“We have a long history of working with artists at the center,” Nelson said. “The local art community has always supported our work, and we’re very grateful for that support. This is a great benefit, because it’s local art by local artists benefiting a local organization that helps local people cope with a life-altering disease.”
In an attempt to create a block-party atmosphere, the White Cap Grille will provide food for the event.
Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be reached at 791-6457 or: