Show Me the Monet

Pepper Crary’s Show Me the Monet Gallery of Fine Art doesn’t just showcase the work of local artists; it also gives aspiring artists a chance to hone their craft. (Photo: Toni Randle Cook)

A fellowship of artists. That’s how Pepper Crary describes Show Me the Monet Gallery of Fine Art, her new artistic venture located in Gracie Lane.

”I can walk around and talk to you about each artist, what they do, where they are from, how long they have been painting and what their true love is,” says Crary.

Pepper has always had an appreciation for the arts. She’s visited galleries around the world. She is an active board member of the local art association. Crary was enjoying retirement when she was approached by Teresa Burda, owner of Gracie Lane, with an opportunity to open the gallery. She initially hesitated because coming out of retirement meant less time to work on her own painting. But says she felt God’s lead.

“I really feel like I was meant to do this, this is where I am supposed to be,” exclaims Crary. “I discussed the idea with my husband, Gary, who encouraged me to move on it. He supports me fully and has been a ‘behind the scenes’ backbone for my gallery.”

In addition to her husband, Crary says a lot of church friends and fellow artists pitched in to clean, paint and help prepare the space needed for the gallery.

Show Me the Monet Gallery of Fine Art held its grand opening in September, featuring 26 local artists.

“We have a lot of talent in here,” boasts Crary. “Some of these people have been painting 20 to 60 years.”

Crary carefully chose the artists whose work is on display. But since she opened the gallery, she has had many inquiries from others who would like to display their work.

“I love the artists. Because of that connection, the hardest part of this job is saying no to some of them who want to be included,” explains Crary. “Sometimes, I just can’t say no, and I let them in and hope I can help make them be successful.”

Crary says she joined the local art association because she wanted to be involved, give back to the community and serve her fellow artists, who clearly appreciate her new endeavor.

“It’s a hangout gallery. We often just sit around, hang out and share ideas,” says Crary. “It helps to strengthen relationships and build a stronger more informed visual arts community. We renew the artistic spirit in those who have been inactive and challenge others to add new skills and expand their reach.”

Show Me the Monet hosts about 20 workshops a month. They are taught by local artists. The workshops are open to everyone, even those who say they can’t draw a stick figure. Crary challenges them.

“I can point people in the direction of which classes they should take,” explains Crary. “We walk around [they’ve never painted before], and I’ll say ‘Well, tell me what you like, which kind of painting do you like?,’ and I’ll direct them to the right workshop.”

Crary has put her heart into the space – down to her choice of bright wall colors to showcase a particular artist’s work and the different type of light bulbs that illuminate each area of the gallery.

But the bulbs are not the only thing shining bright.

“I love everything about it,” says Crary. “I love creating the gallery. I love bringing in the artists. I love hanging around with my artists. I love watching the workshops and partaking in some of them.”

With its boutique shops and the new Rose Garden Tea Room, Gracie Lane is already a destination point for tourism. Show Me the Monet is likely to become another draw for visitors.

“All of these women go there for lunch, and then they want to walk it off, and they have a wonderful place to peruse through,” Crary says. “And everybody comes in here and loves the colors and the openness. It’s a win-win for everybody!”

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Toni Randle-Cook

Toni Randle-Cook is a contributing writer for AT Magazine.