New gallery is Things She Likes, and Ehrenberger hopes we like them too
If we all owned a business, we'd want to stock it — and probably name it — just the way Catherine Ehrenberger has. Her gallery/studio, at 3954 Bayshore Drive, is titled Things I Like by Catherine.
New in the growing Bayshore Arts District, Things I Like has an inventory of items that just fascinate Ehrenberger. They'll likely fascinate her visitors, too.
There are candles poured inside dusky recycled bottle holders, exuding exotic blends like orange/vetivir/geranium and red ginger/saffron/lime zest.
The jewelry is, for the most part, Florida-made. Ehrenberger has sought hers from local artisans she can relate to for their personal stories, people like Dakota Osceola, a bead crafter of Seminole heritage. Styles range is from Osceola's delicate beadwork to bracelets that are sleek acrylic bows or dangling polished mercury dimes.
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But what people are instantly drawn to is the art on the walls. RyAnne Curnow's Tje dynamic circles of RyAnne (nee RyAnne Curnow) roll among watercolor splashes; Maggie deMarco's color-centric abstracts carry her signature scribble; Stacie Krupa's crustaceans glow in yellows, pinks and greens. Linda Hinkle's large-format abstracts are there, too.
There also are some serene works by an artist named Catherine Ehrenberger. The owner creates some of her paintings in the studio side room of her 1,300 square-foot space.
"I came late to this," she concedes. "I always collected collected art, but I didn't really start painting until four years ago."
That was after she left the corporate world of sales, training and development, which followed one of her furthest departures: working with horses on a ranch in Texas.
The Downers Grove, Illinois, native said she loved the job and hated to leave: "But I had to get a job that would support the life I'd like to become accustomed to," she said, laughing.
Ehrenberger said she had always planned to eventually open an art gallery, and that she wanted to make Things I Like "a place to come for strong, colorful, vibrant art." Bayshore, she said, had a "lively vibe," and she's found her business neighbors to be especially helpful. She even carries some jewelry by a Bayshore artisan, Amanda Jaron.
"I wanted it to have a community feel," Ehrenberger said. That means there's local art here, and local events. She has two open houses for her artists coming up this month. (See the information box with this story).
Ehrenberger's building was a modest tract house at the corner of Linda Drive. Moving its entrance to the side street and turning its French vanilla and avocado in white and violet, she created a walkaround gallery with just a section of midwall against which to position one of her handpainted pieces of old furniture.
The viewer is drawn in so quickly, it's likely you'll circle back around the central wall segment before you see its piece de resistance: the Art-o-mat. Art-o-mats are retired cigarette machines that have come from the dark side to serve as purveyors of tiny art. Packaged in cigarette box-size packages, the art ranges from painted blocks to framed pieces to even some wearable art, all of it custom-made by contract with Clark Whittington of Winston, North Carolina.
All of the art fits inside cigarette pack containers and is even wrapped in cellophane. This squat machine, with its steamrolled Santoro text, looks as though Jon Hamm in his "Mad Men" character should be lounging against it. But insert one of the $5 tokens that Ehrenberger carries and out pops art. General depictions, visuals where the cigarette brands once were, give an idea of what's under each pull. But pieces are unique.
"There are about 100 machines around the country, and some people seek them out just to buy the different artists and see the machines," Ehrenberger said. It's not only an enticing addition, it keeps with Ehrenberger's philosophy that everyone should be able to afford art.
"Most of my jewelry ranges from $40 to $500," she said. "What's behind all this for me is my belief that original art brings an energy and a vitality that mass-produced doesn't have."
And energy and vitality are among the Things Catherine Ehrenberger Likes.
Harriet Howard Heithaus covers arts and entertainment for the Naples Daily News/naplesnews.com. Reach her at 239-213-6091.
If you go
Things I Like by Catherine
When: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays until June 1; summer closure through mid-October;
Where: 3954 Bayshore Drive, Naples
Information: thingsilikebyc.com; or 239-778-4665
Something more: Meet several of the artists at 4-9 p.m. receptions — candlemakers, April 1; RyAnne, April 23