Artists Sheri Griffin and Janice Nagel burst into smiles as they cut the ribbon to mark the start of a new business venture on April 15 – a gallery in Islamorada.
Walls covered in paintings by Nagel, from Living in Local Color, capture the beauty of nature and the color of Keys. Photographs by Griffin on shelves and walls show picturesque sunsets over the Florida Keys. The beautiful bright flowers of Griffin’s air plants hang around the store.
A suite rented by Griffin in the Plaza building at MM 80.9 once served as the office of the photographer, widely known for her calendars filled with breathtaking Keys sunsets and unique air plants. Griffin couldn’t think of a better artist to partner with than Nagel, who only recently started painting.
“We are happy to be on this journey together,” Griffin said. “It makes perfect sense to team up with another artist who deserves all the exposure for his incredible work.”
Originally from upstate New York, Griffin moved to the Keys in 2011. She remembers one time about two years ago when Nagel walked into her office. There, an artist friendship blossomed. Looking to buy a calendar, Nagel was also curious about starting her own business. Having spent time at numerous art shows and farmers markets, Griffin was more than happy to connect Nagel to the art scene.
“She likes to be here during the day to paint. I like to go out and do photography,” Griffin said. “She has the entrepreneurial spirit to be here, and then we both have a creative mindset.”
Born on the Jersey Shore, Nagel spent her beach life gazing out to sea and admiring the beauty of the Garden State’s sunflower fields and green pastures. His appreciation of local color stems from New Jersey’s ever-changing seasons.
Nagel is inspired by his grandmother who was creative and a teacher in all areas of cooking, crafts, gardening and painting. Nagel remembers finding his grandmother’s art box containing paints. This prompted her to try her hand at painting.
Nagel moved to the Keys in 2015 and aspired to become a photographer. But she found no one to teach her. Nagel’s first painting came from a photo of a white heron she took on her husband’s charter boat.
“I took it to BJ Royster and asked his opinion,” Nagel said. “She said, ‘Don’t stop painting. “”
Like Nagel, Griffin’s inspiration comes from his grandmother. While working at Cheeca, Griffin took pictures from the side.
“I would be out every day doing sunsets and sunrises,” Griffin said. “I learned on my own with the help of other professional photographers. I started learning photography and became obsessed with it. It’s an incredible dream.
Then the plants fell into Griffin’s lap in 2017 after Hurricane Irma. Outside of work, Griffin collected sea urchins to bring a bit of the ocean into her home. Thinking of a way to create a product to sell for people to enjoy, one of his artist friends suggested Griffin try air plants. From there was born Griffin’s new venture in Air Plant Jellyfish.
Works by Nagel and Griffin are regularly exhibited at Art Walk in the arts and culture district of Morada. Now there is a gallery for people to view beautiful paintings and photographs of unforgettable Keys scenes.
“I like people coming to see my works in a gallery situation,” Nagel said. “I love being at Art Walk, but it takes my dream to a new level.”
The artists say they are looking to organize art exhibitions, classes and other events with other local artists. The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.