BRANDON — From parasails and parrots to topiaries and topographies, Vanessa Martin has captured them all through the lens of her camera.
Since 2007, she has snapped moments in time that she deemed exhibit worthy.
Martin, however, kept running into was that gallery owners who disagreed. So she took her passion into her own hands. With the help of her husband Richard, a U.S. Army veteran, she opened her own place.
She calls it the Creative Artist.
"I want to be able to show my photography in galleries," said Martin, who left a career as a drug store manager in Orlando and moved to Ruskin in 2014 to focus more on her art. "After much discussion, I decided to open my own gallery to all artists. No experience necessary."
Earlier this month, the Creative Artist opened its doors for its first monthly show. Titled "Everything Spring," the exhibition features more than 35 pieces from nine fledgling artists ranging from their 20s to their 60s. Paintings and photos are on display, and they sell for $75 to $2,200.
"Artists in the area are super excited to have someplace that does this," Martin said.
The Martins scouted downtown Tampa property first, before deciding on a more residential-friendly location with an open space and lots of parking. The result is a 1,250-square-foot gallery at 933 E Brandon Blvd., around the corner from Bubbaque's and Domino's Pizza.
The Martins plan to reach out to the Hillsborough County School District to give high school and middle school artists an opportunity to show their work in a gallery setting. They also said they want to work with the VA and veterans who are doing some type of art therapy and want an outlet to display their work.
The next monthly show will be titled "My Home Town" and begins June 10. To be included, artists can enter individual shows, rent gallery space or become a member. Interested artists should visit the creativeartistgallery.com. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.
Wawa plans to add two area locations
Wawa, the Pennsylvania-based convenience store, continues its torrid pace of expanding throughout Florida with plans to add two more locations in the SouthShore and Brandon area.
Wawa is slated to open at 1728 W Brandon Blvd., adjacent to Portillo's. Another Wawa is being constructed in the SouthShore area where the popular Copper Penny and the standalone building of Boggs Jewelry (that moved across the street) once sat at the corner of U.S. 301 and State Road 674.
Wawa likes to give away free coffee during its grand openings so check for their promotions at wawa.com/StoreGrandOpenings.
Since entering the Florida market in July of 2012, the company has launched nearly 100 stores between Orlando and Tampa Bay, and plans to open more than 100 in South Florida.
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