Mark Richardson had a vision of experiencing art in a new way — he imagined a better way to enjoy art than standing in an art gallery with nowhere to sit.
Richardson, the owner of art gallery and wine café Somewhere Along The Way, first opened the gallery in Micanopy three years ago. As of 2018, Somewhere Along The Way will relocate to 201 SE 2nd Ave. in downtown Gainesville, with a soft re-opening on Wednesday and a grand re-opening later in the month.
Richardson’s motivation is to create an art gallery with a comfortable atmosphere that awakens the senses and allows art to be better enjoyed.
“I want people to experience art, and to experience art means it can go beyond the boundaries of it’s a sculpture or a painting or whatever – it can be a glass of wine with chocolate,” Richardson said. “To me, that’s art.”
Richardson said Somewhere Along The Way offers a coffee and espresso bar, a selection of local craft beers and his hand-picked selection of wines, likely to include California reds and Italian whites.
“I’m an art gallery first, but then I want to make sure that there’s something for people to enjoy,” Richardson said. “If they’re looking at the art they can sit here with a coffee, craft beer or glass of wine, chocolate.”
The gallery features diverse artwork, including drawings, paintings, sculptures and mosaics from several regional artists.
There are also regular live music performances from jazz, blues, folk and acoustic artists, including the Damaged Daughters, a favorite American folk group of Richardson’s.
Richardson said he first had a vision for Somewhere Along The Way after moving to Micanopy with his wife four years ago. For the 20 years beforehand, Richardson said he was traveling across the country as an information technology consultant.
“At the end of the day, most consultants, you know, usually people just go back to their hotel room and go to bed and get up to go to work the next day,” Richardson said. “Well I would walk around to try and get the feel for whatever place I was in and take pictures.”
After moving to Micanopy, Richardson thought about opening his own photography gallery, but thought that only showing his work seemed dull. While antique furniture shopping, he said he found his inspiration for Somewhere Along The Way.
“There was a little, tiny red building for lease,” Richardson said. “So I did, I jumped in.”
Fast forward three years, and Richardson has outgrown Micanopy. Richardson said he had hoped it would grow into a stronger art district, but that his vision was just too much for the quiet town. He added that the move to downtown Gainesville was the next step for his business.
“I like the energy here, and living in Boston and traveling usually I would go to larger cities when I was working as a consultant, and I liked the downtown energy,” Richardson said. “And honestly I kind of missed it.”
Bruce MenNe', a featured surrealist wood sculptor in the gallery, has been working with Richardson since the opening of Somewhere Along The Way in Micanopy.
“He understands me, and I understand him,” MenNe' said. “Here Mark understands art — he understands me. I don’t know about the other artists, but I have a feeling they feel the same way I do.”
A five year retiree from the aerospace industry, MenNe' now has time to pursue his lifelong carving hobby as a part-time job. MenNe' has combined his love for music and passion of carving to create surrealist sculptures of musical instruments out of fine and exotic woods.
“Taking Flight,” a sculpture of two harps and a violin twisted into the image of a swan, will be on display when the gallery opens Jan. 10.
“It’s two harps, and it’s a violin, but the harps and the violin are twisted into different shapes and go different directions,” MenNe' said. “I affectionately call it a ‘swandelin’ – that’s my pet name for it.”
MenNe' said that each musical instrument per sculpture takes about 45 hours to carve. MenNe' said that parting with his sculptures is never an easy thing to do, but that Richardson makes it easier.
“And the reason for that is I trust Mark. You know, he’s a great guy,” MenNe' said. “I just get to carve, and he’ll create the setting.”