Rich, vibrant colors and eclectic art ranging from paintings to jewelry and sculpture fill the gallery at the Dancing Crane Gallery, a top destination for art lovers in Bradenton’s Village of the Arts.
Like many of the unique galleries and studios in Bradenton’s bustling artist community it is somewhat off the beaten path. Still Dancing Crane is recognized as one of the area's premiere galleries given its carefully curated selection of work by local and out-of-state artists.
“I’m always looking for new, innovative, creative people in every medium from sculpture to jewelry and two-dimensional art,” said gallery owner and curator, Beverly Krenshaw. “If it fits into the category of visual arts, I’m interested."
Krenshaw, who moved to Florida in 1999 when she retired from her career as an educator, said that she has never considered herself to be an artist, but has made a point to surround herself with art.
“I’ve always been on the periphery of art, fashion and design,” Krenshaw said. “I study art because I’m curious, and I want to understand how people create things — but I can’t say that I’ve ever really considered myself an artist, per se.”
Throughout her career, Krenshaw devoted her free time to the study of various artistic pursuits. She spent a year in Japan studying the Japanese art of flower arranging, ikebana, while working with the Japanese Ministry of Education to make documentaries and produce an English-speaking television show. At another point, she ran a business selling southwestern Native American style jewelry — a reflection of her diverse interests and eclectic style.
Krenshaw said that when she retired and moved to Bradenton from Alexandria, Va. in 1999, she did so for all the same reason that brings most retirees to the Friendly City: The pursuit of a life of leisure.
“I came down here and for two years, I went through the whole list of things you’re supposed to do when you retire. I relaxed, I played bridge and a lot of tennis, and I volunteered everywhere I could imagine,” Krenshaw said. “But after two years, I knew I had to develop something. I needed a project. I kept telling people I would know what that project was when I saw it, but it took me some time to figure it out.”
What Krenshaw did know was that she was inspired by the burgeoning Village of the Arts, which was founded the same year as her move to Bradenton.
“I arrived just when they were beginning the Village of the Arts,” Krenshaw recalled. “I remember thinking what a great idea it was and how much I wanted to support it.”
While she was introducing a visiting friend to the Village of the Arts in 2006, Krenshaw saw a “For Sale” sign in the front yard of a 10th Ave. bungalow and the vision for her big project suddenly became clear.
“When I saw that sign, I thought ‘This is it,” Krenshaw recalled. “I had been watching the Village of the Arts grow for years and was so impressed with everything going on in that neighborhood. I realized I wanted to be part of it; to establish a place of my own for artists and the public to comingle with one another.”
Krenshaw set up the gallery to feature a rotation of different artists and generally changes the gallery theme each month during season. The current theme, “The Crane Sings the Blues,” places an emphasis on blues music and runs through December in honor of the upcoming Bradenton Blues Festival. During the first Friday of the month, blues guitarist, Steve Turrell, will perform in the Dancing Crane Gallery’s backyard garden.
Upcoming themes at The Dancing Crane such as “Women Contemporary Artists” in January; featured artist Christina Caserta in February; “Noir et Blanc” by featured artist, Florence Putterman, in March and April, and “Exotic Florals” by featured artist, Liz Trostli, in May reflect the diversity of exhibits that pass through the gallery during any given season.
In addition to displaying and selling the work of featured artists, the Dancing Crane Gallery hosts classes, demonstrations and workshops on a variety of subjects ranging from the art of Feng Shui to sculpting and acrylics.
“I think these kinds of classes are important to teach the public about what goes into making a painting or a sculpture; to really inform them about what goes into the creative process and encourage a better appreciation of art,” Krenshaw said.
One of the most interesting features of the Dancing Crane Gallery is the backyard garden, a bohemian oasis of sculptural art and flora with plenty of seating area. The garden is available for rent, and is a popular space for wedding receptions, business meetings and small groups.
“Galleries in the Village of the Arts aren’t right out there along the road, so we really have to work to make them into a destination that people want to go out of their way to visit.” Krenshaw said.
“It can be a hard sell because not everyone thinks that art is a necessity, but those of us who are here — we absolutely do. Art enriches our lives, and my goal is for people to have a place where everyone can experience that. I couldn’t have chosen a better project.”
The Dancing Crane Gallery is open by appointment on Thursday through Saturday and during First Friday art walks in Village of the arts. To schedule a visit or to inquire about renting garden space, call the gallery at 941-744-1333.