Walking into La Petite Gallerie for the first time isn’t like walking into any other gallery.
The shop itself is quiet and small with artwork hanging all along the walls. One tall glass tower filled with commissioned jewelry sits near an opening in the wall leading into the adjacent shop known as “The Store.” What makes La Petite special isn’t the space it inhabits, but the art and artists inside. La Petite Gallerie is a co-op owned gallery that opened in February 2015. Owned by the six artists showcased inside, La Petite provides a uniquely Bluffton experience along its most popular street.
“We each take turns running the gallery throughout the week,” said Murray Sease, co-owner and showcased artist at La Petite.
“We split up the wall space for each of our works.”
Between Margaret Crawford, Peggy Duncan, Barbara Grubba, Don Nagel, Emily Wilson and Murray Sease, the small space within La Petite houses colorful paintings, glasswork, woodwork and even some jewelry.
“Everything in here is handmade by all the artists that own the gallery,” said Sease. “Except for jewelry. We commission local artists for that, and Jo Ann is a big seller. We’ve sold many of her pieces since we started showing her work.”
Jo Ann Graham, a local jewelry and metal smithing artist, has her work on display at La Petite. Taking form from movement, the retired dance educator has leaped into creating beautiful, wearable art through metal smithing. Her pieces show a delicate strength through shape and design, meant to mimic movement and flow she sees in everyday life.
All of Graham’s pieces are one of a kind and never replicated. Made of sterling silver, Graham has begun to experiment, adding elements of copper and gold to her work as well. Each piece is handmade and priced accordingly. In addition to the La Petite Gallerie, she shows her work at multiple craft shows. She posts which craft shows she will attend on her personal Facebook, as well as that for her company, Silver Lining Dezign.
“There is such a strength and fluidity to her work,” said Sease.
By taking inspiration from movement around her, Graham has become a popular metalsmithing artist in the area. She even gave a metal smithing demonstration outside of La Petite in mid-October. To see more of her work, you can can stop by La Petite Gallery located at 56 Calhoun Street or click here to go to her Facebook.