WESLEY CHAPEL — Wine may be the lure that brings people into the Great Frame Up.
But it's the art that makes them stay.
Every first Friday of the month the Great Frame Up store in Wesley Chapel transforms into a gallery featuring the work of North Tampa Art League artists.
This Friday, the work of local painters Dorie Anderson and Gainor Roberts will be on display from 6 to 9 p.m.
"It's a nice reason to stay open late on a Friday," says Tanya Hervey, the store's manager. "We offer free wine and free food. We're not known as an art gallery, so it's all about getting the word out."
Hervey says the Great Frame Up was looking for a local art organization to connect with when they came across the North Tampa Art League.
"Wesley Chapel has a very small art community. We want to promote local artists and make people aware there is art and culture here," says Hervey.
Mary Ellen Bitner, the president of the North Tampa Art League, agrees.
"Things are coming along here," says Bitner, a New Tampa resident for 20 years and a founding member of the North Tampa Art League.
Bitner says there was a need for an arts league in the area when they formed in 2004.
"Although the Hillsborough County Arts Council acts as a facilitator for the arts, they tend to focus more on South Tampa," says Bitner.
Now up to 85 members, the art league puts on shows throughout North Tampa, but just started working with the Great Frame Up this past August.
"The first show was lovely," says Bitner.
"It was a good way to get to know the NTAL," says Hervey, who has been manager since September. "And there's a large body of artists to choose from."
An art show at the Great Frame Up typically focuses on one or two North Tampa artists, with media ranging from paintings to sculpture.
This Friday, Roberts will debut her "Genesis Series," a collection of seeds painted close-up.
"They look like photographs," says Bitner. "They are absolute perfection."
Bitner should know. A painter since her 30s, Bitner retired from teaching to pursue a career as an artist. As the president of North Tampa league, she organizes shows for its members.
"We're learning more," says Bitner.
"Every show will get bigger," says Hervey. She says the show in November drew about 50 people.
"People spent the entire night at the gallery," she says. "And an artist sold a piece."
Despite the hard economic times, Hervey and Bitner remain positive about the future.
"Art is a luxury item," says Bitner. "But original art is an investment, especially if you have a good eye. It will last for generations."