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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

The Melrose Center unveils new art gallery ‘Studios of Melrose’ featuring local works

The community nonprofit organization opened the gallery in December

Studios of Melrose Gallery & Gifts in Melrose, Fla.
Studios of Melrose Gallery & Gifts in Melrose, Fla.

The pastel yellow exterior of the two-story building and the bright blue herons painted around the porch make Studios of Melrose a picturesque spot. But the colorful paintings lining the walls and the handmade creations filling the room make the gallery a spot worth stopping for.

The Melrose Center, a community nonprofit organization, opened Studios of Melrose in early December in Melrose, Florida. The new art gallery features local, vintage and fair trade art and works. The space also acts as a gift shop selling Haitian paintings, handmade pottery, woodblock prints, art supplies, greeting cards and more. 

Anne Gilroy, the curator of the Studios of Melrose gallery and a Melrose resident, aims to enhance artists’ experience through the exhibitions of the Studios of Melrose. 

“What I would like to do … is to continue to honor and respect the artists who already have a presence in Melrose,” Gilroy said, “but also inspire them by bringing in work of people who aren't necessarily a part of the community.” 

Gilroy believes the Melrose Center is a hub for local artistic expression, she said.

“[Melrose] is a place where a lot of art makers, writers, especially musicians, have chosen to live, and so it's natural to have outlets for those different art forms,” she said. “The Melrose Center comes together very organically from the energy and the demographic of the area.”

Locally and regionally acclaimed artists have their works featured in the gallery, including Bill Paine and Pam Hobbs, Gilroy said.

Bill Paine, a local musician and artist, creates eccentric artisan lamps from found objects such as guitar necks and colorful glass. Paine said the gallery gives artists a platform, positively impacting them.

“I like the fact that the gallery space is in a place that you can equate to, as it is your own place,” Paine said. “The gallery itself is doing a lot of work to promote the gallery and promote the artists.”

Community members who are regulars at the center, like 74-year-old Dr. Mark Lewis, find Studios of Melrose to be a great addition to its community.

“[The gallery] is a very logical and welcomed extension of the kinds of services and offerings that are available at the Melrose Center,” Lewis said.

Bruce Waite, the executive director and co-founder of the Melrose Center, envisioned the Studios of Melrose as a mutually beneficial project for the center, artists and the community.

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“Our goal was to create a means by which we could assist them in supporting themselves with their art and also benefit the activities of our non-profit,” Waite said.

Established in 2010 by Waite and his wife, Gwen, the Melrose Center has built a 50-seat restaurant and accumulated a clientele of hundreds, Waite added.

In creating the center, Waite considered four pillars most important to him: health and nutrition, access to healthcare, social connectedness and economic sustainability. Food insecurity, health disparities, lack of healthcare access and chronic disease rates, he said, are on the rise.

“We are trying to build a focal point where people can come and get whatever services we can garner for them, so that they can continue to age gracefully without increased risk to their health and safety,” he said.

Pam Hobbs, an artist from Key West whose prints of tropical and funky views of Florida skies and scenes are displayed in the Studios of Melrose gallery, is a close friend of the Waites. Hobbs said she values the couple's work and has come to live by one motto.

“Let’s be as diverse as we can,” she said. “Let's bring in artwork from around the world.”

Catie Miller, a 74-year-old Melrose resident, is one of the thousands who frequent The Melrose Center to listen to music and make friends. Miller has written songs about the center, which she calls her “clubhouse.”

“If every town had a place like this, it would make the life of the people in that town a lot better,” Miller said. “As my song says, ‘good food, good friends and a place to sing.”’

Willow Murphy, a UF alumnus and the community engagement coordinator at the Melrose Center, witnesses how important the center is for peoples’ physical and mental health. The socialization and health services it offers are crucial for the community, Murphy said.

“Everybody that comes in tells me that it saved their life,” Murphy said. “[The Melrose Center] is a really great community symbol.”

The Melrose Center is open Tuesday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. It hosts live local music performances two to three times a week on Thursdays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., as well as the first and third Friday of every month.

Contact Molly Seghi at mseghi@alligator.org. Follow her on X @molly_seghi.

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Molly Seghi

Molly Seghi is a first-year journalism major at UF and a Fall 2023 Avenue Reporter. When not writing or journaling, she can be found at a live music event or working on her podcast “An Aural Account.”


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