The Rev. W. David Stowe recently opened Lightkeepers Gallery in Frisco. It’s an appropriate name for his business as a 13-year pastor of Heritage of Faith and a coastal gallery owner. He sheds light as he moves from one devotion to the next whether illuminating Bible verses or the art created by those with a love of the sea.
He is passionate about his faith, but also has a pension for art being the one who chooses most of the offerings in the new shop. The former owner of a painting business and with a mother who did upholstery, and a sister who is a designer, Stowe says “it’s in our bones.”
Take a sweeping glance of the offerings and you’ll discover art and crafts that can’t be found elsewhere on the island. “That’s our desire to have things nobody else has,” he says.
This includes pottery featuring the pastor’s favorite color — red. The handsome array of two-toned bright red and blue pieces includes dinner sets, lidded jars, vases and trays. Or you can choose from similar styles in turquoise and tan or cobalt and turquoise.
Works in clay are a mainstay at the gallery and include everything from a dragonfly pendant to sea life wall art and clay sculptures including mini fish, sea stars and sea horses up to a foot-long sea turtle in brilliant ocean colors.
Two-dimensional art comes in many styles and mediums including the work of the gallery’s manager Lynzie Renteria. A relatively new artist, Renteria works in acrylics on canvas and paints a variety of images including a turtle popping its head above the water, a beautiful white egret, and a palm tree. She began creating mostly for family but has been pushed to do more. “Now that I’ve come here, it’s a no brainer,” she says.
Lively paintings employing a drip technique grace a nearby wall. A swimming mermaid has flowing hair featuring strands of magenta, black, white, violet, deep purple and gold with a sea star setting off the cacophony of color. In other works, drips of paint outline a festive crab and an oyster shell.
Glass art picks up light from front windows and shows off a variety of colors and shapes including the funky gestures of slumped, short-stemmed dessert glasses in ten different colors including blood orange, cobalt, turquoise and amber.
Glass sculptures feature undulating underwater scenes with delicate jellyfish, sea grass, and turtles in gorgeous greens, pinks, purples and blues.
Gallery goers will also discover individual pieces of art glass and utilitarian glass including vinegar bottles, footed bowls, and water pitchers. The glass theme takes a turn as framed art with sea glass forming crabs or just being framed as stand-alone groupings of pale greens and blues.
Authentic sea glass becomes fine craft in the hands of artist Pembroke Bryant who designs and handcrafts pendants and rings with the beloved beach finds. The work is stunning, in a word.
Also on display is the hand-crafted silver jewelry by Joy Hannan. Focusing on coastal imagery, she creates necklaces featuring mermaids and sailboats and crafts breathtaking rings with sparkling gemstones.
Turning back to wall art, two artists work on maps and paint to create arresting works featuring either gyotaku fish prints or hand-painted sea life. Depending on the artist, the images are framed in rustic weathered-looking wood, or colorful, distressed wood frames. They share use of maps and natural frames but have distinctly different end results.
If you are looking to pick up a palm-sized gift, you can zero in on hand-crafted bath and body products, or a magnet or coastal nightlight. Pick up a fragrant candle or even a gift for your dog as they have a wide variety of collars and leashes from the jazzy and sparkly to colorful kitsch.
An unhurried visit is a must as there are so many choices that it’s mind-boggling that they can be presented artistically and without feeling overloaded.
It’s a nod to thoughtful picks by Frisco lightkeeper, W. David Stowe.
Mary Ellen Riddle has been writing the Coast’s art column for more than 20 years and brings to her work a BFA in painting from East Carolina University and a profound passion for the role the arts play in society.