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In a sense, you could say artist Malenda Trick is reinventing the easel.

"I woke up one morning thinking the Island really needed a destination for artists to exhibit their work, to meet clients and to maximize sales," Trick says, explaining the concept behind the opening of her new venture, the Local Color Art Gallery. "There are so few opportunities for artists to do so here on the Island."

The gallery is located on the upper level of the Shops of Old Marco, just a few doors down from Trick's own gallery and work studio. Formally apartment rental space, the new gallery gives off a warm and welcoming vibe: like walking into a comfortable home, with beautiful art displayed on the walls, inviting furniture groupings and oriental carpets on the floors.

"I'd describe it as bohemian or having a SoHo feel," says Trick.

The walls and other display areas are rented at reasonable rates, from $100 to $300 a month, to local artists only. So far, eight artists – Linda Kowalczyk (jewelry), Betty Newman (acrylics), Kat Rinaldo (photography), Peter Sottong (reproduction Calusa art), Donald (watercolors) and Joanna Sunshine (fiber arts), Karen Swanker (multi-media) – are now exhibiting in the Gallery.

A framer will be joining the group shortly, and other Island artists have expressed interest in renting space.

The gallery could not have opened at a better time. With the recent closing of the Artists' Gallery at The Esplanade, several artists exhibiting there needed a place to go and were attracted to Trick's budget-conscious alternative.

"If you are selling only enough to pay rent," says Trick, "then you are just treading water."

The artists spend two days in the gallery each week. If they sell their work, they can pocket the entire sale price. If Trick sells their work, she takes a small percentage. Trick's husband, Clark, a retired lawyer and now "the in-house IT guy," takes care of the Gallery's publicity, but participating artists are expected to promote their work as well.

"I want this to feel like a community of artists. I want us to scratch each other's back."

Local Color Art Gallery

Location: Mezzanine, Shops of Old Marco, Royal Palm Drive

Hours: 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Monday through Saturday

Phone: 239-394-2787, cell 615-292-9110

E-mail: clark@malendatrick.com

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