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Linda Best, proprietor of Venice Island Gallery & Gifts, holds a 3-D painting among the display exhibited by a participating artist.

Venice is known for having a lot of artistic talent and Linda Best believes there is no place for them to sell their artwork and special crafts. Needing a foundation and outlet to fulfill this need, Best has created Venice Island Gallery & Gifts at 219 West Venice Avenue.

Refurbishing those empty stores took her three months and involved ripping up the carpets, scraping and painting the floor.

The result is an attractive gallery with high-end framed oil, acrylics, water colors and some specialty jewelry at the entry. Participating artists have work in other galleries or have owned their own galleries. All the art has to be framed or gallery wrapped and presentable to be hung on the wall.

Entering the adjoining unit known as the story room, because 90 percent of artists exhibiting there are women having a story to tell from their health, who use their art to recover and feel better. Among the works are 3-D paintings coming to life when viewed with 3-D glasses by an artist who sees without glasses.

On display are colorful golf cart seat covers and yoga mats, handmade painted owls by a Myakka man and by another artist fine art silk fashions and shawls. Designs of paper beads, jewelry from shells on the beach, charms from Venice beach sand and mail-art on pre-stamped sea grape leaves.

“Within 3 weeks of putting the word out I was opening my artist’s gallery, I had 50 artists,” said Best.

“In the coming weeks artists will start classes offering acrylics, water colors, jewelry and mosaic and I will take requests for additional projects,” Best said.

From Montgomery County, Maryland, Best won an art scholarship and started of her art career. Moving to Sarasota in 2002 continuing her art and making crafts she went into retail attending local markets including Venice, developing a strong following.

In 2009 she opened an art gallery in the 2 studio apartments above the new downtown store. Now she already has more than 60 artists, most of which are from Venice and Englewood.

Venice Island Gallery & Gifts is open Monday-Thursday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 941-441-8797.

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