It is no coincidence that and based out of Bradenton’s Village of the Arts are garnering attention in Patch’s weekly Business Spotlight column. In recent years, Florida’s largest art community has undergone a metamorphosis of sorts as residents work tirelessly in the revitalization effort, attracting fresh, new artists like Hector and Bonnie Herran to settle in Bradenton.
Since its establishment in 2009, the Ferrans’ 10th Avenue gallery, , has undergone its own share of transformations as it blossoms in tandem with the Village arts community.
When its doors opened three years ago, the original Blue Marschmello featured Bonnie’s art on the front porch while her husband, Hector, ran a comic shop inside. The interior retail space also featured the artwork of local artists such as Elif Bannister and student, John Carvajal.
“It was almost like a really cool consignment shop,” Hector recalled. “It was fun, but as time went on with all these artists living and working around us, we decided we really wanted to focus on taking the gallery in a more personal, art-oriented direction,” he said.
In addition to showcasing their unique brand of found art, Bonnie put her green thumb to use to help customers with gardening projects by offering home visits to assist in the planning and creation of gardens. Blue Marschmello also began selling organic plants, seeds, and accessories and gardening tools.
Eventually the Ferrans ditched the comics and turned their attention toward utilizing the gallery space to showcase their own art, which they describe as “folky found art,” made from found objects that most people consider garbage or junk.
“I suppose I am an artist, but I really don’t call myself one,” Bonnie confessed. “I prefer to say that I dabble. I paint, I do crafts and I garden. I like to keep it simple and just do whatever makes me happy.”
Her husband seconds her sentiment, labeling his own style of art with the tongue in cheek brand, “Fart Art.”
“I call it ‘Fart Art’ because if I feel like creating, I just let it rip,” he explained. “We really just believe in making art for art’s sake, and that’s what this gallery is all about.”
In the past, most of Hector’s artistic attention was geared toward graphic and web design for his other business, VMI Media Group, but his recent exploration into spray paint on canvas and cardboard currently fills the walls of the former comic shop.
Blue Marschmello featured the work of other local artists for two years, but has recently transitioned to featuring the Ferrans’ artwork exclusively.
“There’s a very personal nature to selling your own work. It’s difficult when the artist isn’t here to talk to that customer and explain his or her own thought process,” Ferran said.
Although the gallery has shifted its focus to the arts, the Ferrans say they still occasionally build organic flower boxes upon request and a stroll through Blue Marschmello’s backyard shows that Bonnie’s love for gardening has not waned.
While her husband fills his free time organizing to beautify distressed areas of the community, Bonnie has embarked on her own mission to enrich the community through guerilla gardening.
“Guerilla gardening is taking vacant plots and bits of land that nobody is tending to and planting something there just because,” she explained.
“We’re fortunate in Bradenton that most of the areas are maintained, but gardening is one of my arts and it’s my little way of giving back to the community," she said. "We’re on foot a lot, living in the Village and walking around downtown all the time, so it’s really easy to just stop and water whatever I’ve planted. It hardly takes any of my time and it makes the area a little nicer to look at.”
While the Ferrans join the efforts of fellow artists and residents of Village of the Arts to further improve the area, Blue Marschmello serves as a friendly home base and a welcoming space where the public is treated like family the moment they walk through the door.
With its ever-evolving style, the gallery serves as an indicator, of sorts, of the constant growth and evolution taking place in the Village of the Arts.
“At the end of the day, it’s mainly about Hector and I and the people we meet,” Bonnie said. “We’re happy to be right here, living and creating art as we think it should be: Art for the sake of art.”