By ROGER BUTTON

Businews Columnist

VENICE — Three local artists have opened a new gallery downtown and are looking to assist residents and visitors who may want to try their hand at art.

Those who may not have the confidence or not be sure how to start can partake in a class at Venice’s newest art gallery, Art Escape Gallery.

Partners, Joanne McLaren, Susan Inglese and Sheila Sullivan own the new gallery located at 206 W. Miami Avenue near Fifi’s.

Having met at Sarasota National where the trio live, the partners began holding art classes until finding the West Miami location.

At their new gallery the trio have decorated the front room with paintings, photography, jewelry and ceramics — all of the art is created by local artists in the region.

To start they’re featuring 20 artists, which are exhibiting fine art and a selection of their own works. Art Escape is the place to shop for collectors who want fine art or residents and tourists who want decorative items for their homes as well as gifts, said McLaren.

Art Escape features flip bins with unframed original art and others with prints, as well a spinning rack postcard style art — everything in the gallery is for sale.

While the front room features locally made art, the back room is the classroom where would-be artists can create their pieces.

“We know there are a lot of people wanting to learn and something to do. This will be a year-round venue for them to come,” McLaren said. “We will do the typical painting, but with a twist as they are more individual and everyone is at a different level.”

Inglese and McLaren are targeting the ‘try me’ people, home artists, permanent residents and people building homes who have empty walls and appreciate fine art.

Already they are offering a mix of classes ranging from water color to pour painting. Eventually there will be photography, as well as jewelry making and they are renting the room to local and visiting artists — some regional artists have been approached to hold 1- or 2-day workshops.

Currently most of the classes are in the morning or afternoon, but some evening sessions are planned. Sessions are for six to eight people, but they can hold up to 18. Adding to the fun they bring a coffee maker, wine and have snacks.

The partner’s plans include participating in the art walks and having wine tastings. McLaren paints in acrylic, water color and pastel seascapes, landscapes, Sullivan is a jewelry artist and paints in pen and ink seashells, and Inglese typically paints in water color sea life, crabs, turtles, still life and landscapes.

Art Escape Gallery is open Mondays to Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. call 941-303-6992 or visit their website www.artescapegallery.net.

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