By Rhiannon Leigh
Hyannis, MA. – Visiting Cape Cod and need the perfect souvenir to give as a gift? Looking for a beautiful piece of artwork to hang in your home and remind you of the crash of the waves? Need the perfect piece of jewelry? Hoping to support local artists? If you stop by the Little Beach Gallery in Hyannis, Mass., you’ll find an eclectic selection of artwork and items that’ll allow you to feel the warmth of Cape Cod — long after you’ve returned home.
During my recent visit, artist and owner Jen Villa welcomed me into her space where she displays artworks of local Cape Cod artists, pieces from several Cape Cod companies and her own photographs. Through a wide variety of pieces, bright color palettes and the huge number of local artists features, Villa has created a space that radiates love and a sense of community. Though there are several higher-priced pieces throughout the gallery, there isn’t a sense of “look-don’t-touch,” but rather an inviting ambiance and a mood reminiscent of days spent at the beach surrounded by loved ones.
The gallery displays works from over 60 artists with who create handcrafted jewelry, ceramics, screen prints, terrariums, woodworks and handmade journals. Jewelers Dani Schmidt of Ocean Love Designs, Molly Avellar of Adorn Cape Cod and Tiffany Jazelle create unique, one of a kind pieces using sea glass and various ocean-inspired designs including waves, mermaids, fishbones and popular Cape Cod catchphrases such as “Salty,” all sure to remind you of the joy of your time spent on the Cape. No matter how short or long that is, these pieces are a way to carry a piece of that salty air with you.
Villa also displays practical pieces for the home that feature individuality and creativity. Potter Susan Kurtzman of Jobi Pottery creates plateware with hand painted fish and saltwater designs to give every home a nautical feel, and Stephanie Suski creates bamboo bottle openers adorned with brightly colored fish and seashells, perfect for inside or outside dining. Jim Beebe of B & B Woodworks uses a variety of wood to skillfully build cutting boards, cheese boards, and coasters with carvings of Cape Cod, lighthouses and wildlife.
Little Beach also includes gifts for the body, including soap, salt scrubs and soy candles, all handmade at locations throughout Cape Cod, and decorate pieces such as paintings, sculpture and works using driftwood and glass. Art Jalbert builds miniature lighthouses from driftwood, making each one a one-of-a-kind work, and Bruce Lounsbery paints nautical scenes on driftwood and boat oars. Andrew Hicks creates glass pieces ranging from plates, paper weights, oil lamps, ring holders and sea stars, and Ann Marie McKenna uses found objects from the ocean and nature to create collaged pieces of work. Villa also features paintings by Jordan Renzi and Cris Reverdy, sculptures by Cecilia DelGaudio, etchings by Carol Dunn and watercolors by Damon Crook.
The gallery is extremely approachable and appeals to a wide audience, a feel Villa felt was extremely important when organizing the space and making it her own. When asked about the ups and downs of Cape Cod, specifically the difficulty that the off season can bring to local residents, she said she felt it was important to be a part of a positive change in Hyannis and the entirety of the Cape, noting the importance of “connecting to a positive feeling to bring us back to center” as well as having a sense of community.
With accessible artwork including nautical items, jewelry, paintings and abstract pieces with a range of price points, Villa, who opened the Little Beach Gallery on Memorial Day Weekend in 2009, has persevered in creating a space that is not only approachable, but energizing and inviting and continues to include local artists and inspire visitors.
(The Little Beach Gallery is located at 539 South Street, Hyannis, Mass. and is open Tuesday through Friday 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday’s and Sunday’s 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call (508) 775-5522.)