Susanne Vernon, whose Queen and Her Knight mosaic sculpture commissioned by the city of Gulfport is one of the new art installations in Clymer Park, plans to open the gallery with her husband August Vernon in November.
The gallery will be among the few stand-alone art venues in Gulfport, marking the beginning of the revival of Beach Boulevard’s art district.
In mid-October, the gallery needed just a few touches, including the handicap ramp and garden work. A human-size mosaic sculpture will be installed in front for a glimpse of art inside. One day in November, the couple says, the doors will quietly open for visitors; a grand opening, they said, would take place much later.
November marks the anniversary of the Vernons’ move to Beach Drive from South Carolina, where they had galleries and Susanne Vernon conducted workshops in mosaic art. They saw their house while on vacation and “fell in love with it,” she says, making an offer within a week.
“This place just seemed to fit us perfectly, so… here we are,” Vernon says. “We like this quaint little neighborhood that reminded us of being in Key West. We like the proximity to the water, not just the bay and the Gulf beaches. Fort De Soto is gorgeous. You know, when you’re there, you can be anywhere in the world; it’s beautiful there.”
They also like the weather here, says Vernon, although she is nervous about hurricanes.
When they moved, the house “was in need of some love,” according to Vernon. They painted the walls, raised the ceilings, installed lights and remodeled windows and doors. The gallery, where other artists will also be displayed, now separates her and her husband’s art spaces to keep the carving dust away from his paintings.
Susanne Vernon’s vision for the fine art gallery is “to attract not just the people who live in our neighborhood, but also people in Florida or in the United States, people who travel from other countries. I think we’d like to be a destination that people are coming to from other places, specifically seeking us out here because what we have is something they want.”
Vernon shifted into mosaics nine years ago, she says. Previously a painter, she assisted August with murals, and he was the first who picked up tiles, inspiring her transition.
Now, Vernon gets inspiration from beauty, she says. “It could be nature or it could be a dish, or it could be another artist’s work that I see. I keep myself informed in my own medium.”