Wednesday, April 30, 2014

McKenzie Gallery — new chip off the 600 Block

A new gallery in St. Pete's cutting edge arts district gets a big city welcome.

Posted By on Wed, Apr 30, 2014 at 12:49 PM

click to enlarge MAKING IT OFFICIAL: At center cutting the ribbon Sean McKenzie left, and Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin. - DANNY OLDA
  • DANNY OLDA
  • MAKING IT OFFICIAL: At center cutting the ribbon Sean McKenzie left, and Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin.

Downtown St. Petersburg’s 600 Block welcomes a new art gallery to the street: McKenzie Gallery. This past Saturday art lovers celebrated with a grand opening party and ribbon cutting.

Paintings and sculptural work from area artists line the walls, shelves and pedestals of the space. McKenzie Gallery promises to be another art destination on a block known for its stops on the city’s popular monthly art walk (its history and recent successes reported in a Tampa Bay Times story on April 29). However, the work of Sean McKenzie, the gallery’s namesake, co-owner, and resident artisan, sets the gallery apart.

click to enlarge INSIDE THE GALLERY: A crowd gathers at McKenzie's opening. - DANNY OLDA
  • DANNY OLDA
  • INSIDE THE GALLERY: A crowd gathers at McKenzie's opening.
The artist and curator has been woodworking since he was a teenager. Through working for decades in apprenticeships and shops in his native California, he honed his craft before finally moving to Florida in 2003.

Much of Sean’s work focuses on cabinetry and furniture often created with reclaimed wood, always with his unique sense of style. McKenzie Gallery’s grand opening showed off some of his artfully crafted furnishings alongside fine art sculpture. Sean’s craftsmanship is even built into the gallery: large cypress beams which he aged with a blow torch frame the back of the space. Now, settled in Florida complete with an Arts and Crafts bungalow and his own shop the block, McKenzie Gallery is ready to get to work.

Saturday’s grand opening party saw a full gallery including local high-profile visitors such as St. Petersburg’s Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin. Tomalin and McKenzie performed a ribbon cutting ceremony before leading the party inside. Both the opening of McKenzie Gallery and show of support from the Mayor’s office is timely in view of a number of gallery closures in St. Petersburg over the past year and the city’s art scene enduring a generally difficult economic time. In a way, the grand opening seemed to celebrate and underscore optimism for the McKenzie Gallery as well as the block it now calls home.     

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