Enjoy a Spring Fling with Gallery Night

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March 17, 2006

Downtown merchants ready their wares for tonight’s showcase. By Lynette Wilson Forget dying your beer green with food coloring today and bursting into song with “Danny Boy,” or “Will Ye Go Lassie Go.” Instead, celebrate St. Patrick’s Day the civilized way with art and culture at the 14th Annual Spring Fling Gallery Night.

It’s worth veering off the beaten path.

For the first time, Susan Campbell, 31, a Pensacola native who moved home from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, will unlock the door of Susan Campbell Jewelry, 208 S. Alcaniz St., with a grand opening and trunk show featuring Tiffany Peay.

Peay, a jewelry designer from Fall River, Mass., makes handmade beaded jewelry featuring colored gold and candy-colored gems. Peay launched her first collection in the mid-1990s at Barneys New York. Her necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings have been featured in InStyle and other fashion and jewelry-trade magazines.

Campbell stocked her store, in the historic Quina South House built circa 1840, with different, new, not trendy, but designed-to-last, pieces ranging from less than $100 to more than $1,000.

“I wanted to get a bunch of different styles,” she said. “I tried to get something for everyone.”

Campbell, an art history major and former metal sculptor, sees jewelry as a modern form of sculpture.

Barbara SilverStein, another Massachusetts’ designer stocked by Campbell, works in braided stainless steel to create elegant, affordable timeless necklaces, bracelets and earrings.

On the right person, jewelry can be worn forever and handed down to other generations, Campbell said.

“That’s a very important aspect of jewelry,” she said. “I like the idea of women’s wealth passed from generation to generation (along with a sense of history).”

And that “something for everyone” Campbell talks about includes fine chocolates.

Not far from Alcaniz, at the nonprofit Artel Gallery, 505 Adams St., is exhibiting 30 works by Xavier Cortada, 41, a Miami-based Cuban-American artist, attorney and activist who has collaborated with diverse groups across the United States, Europe, Latin America and Africa to create pro-social community murals and participant-driven art projects.

Cortada’s “Mangroves,” which is in its last days at Artel, depicts the mangrove — in mostly oil and acrylics on canvas — as a symbol of the journey and interconnectedness of Floridians.

“The mangrove is a perfect metaphor for community,” Cortada said. “How we interact with nature… or is nature a part of our being?”

In depicting mangroves in a variety of ways, the viewer noticing the subtle nuances and the details may then become more in tune with nuances of the world, at least that is what Cortada is aiming at personally and for his audience.

“Art is what I do to work my way through the world,” Cortada said. “It’s an interesting path, journey if you will.”

In the six years Maria V. Butler has been involved with Gallery Night, the executive director of the Pensacola Museum of Art has witnessed it become part of the downtown scene.

“The more quality, the more people want to get involved,” she said. “People know when Gallery Night is. More and more people are beginning to realize that more things are going on downtown.”

Campbell hopes to be a part of the downtown renaissance and its burgeoning arts scene.

“This is a great city. It just needs a little kick,” she said.