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Brooksville gallery opens in historic home

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Published:   |   Updated: July 28, 2013 at 08:33 AM

BROOKSVILLE - The Gallery of the Arts and Antiques in Brooksville showcased the work of 27 local artists until Wednesday morning, when the phone rang.

An artist was on the other line, asking if she could bring by some of her work for display.

Gallery owner and curator Robert Smith said yes, bumping the number up to 28.

The gallery re-opened six weeks ago at 295 Howell Ave. in Brooksville, just north of City Hall. The gallery was previously located at 2 North Broad St. in downtown Brooksville, across from the courthouse.

Smith said he got into the gallery business after his wife passed away last year, and thought of it more as a way to pass the time than make money.

Smith himself works in glass and has created glass windows for St. Anthony's in Brooksville, among other commissions.

In 2012, the historic Howell Avenue home, built in 1910, went on the market as a short sale.

"The price was right," Smith said, and he spent the next nine months renovating the building that also became his residence. Smith said the home had sat vacant for two years before the sale, and squatters used the wood floors near the staircase as a fireplace and removed the electrical wiring.

Smith also had the home rezoned from a residence to a commercial space.

"The city fathers and mothers are happy to see the house back in good condition," Smith said, adding the city council has been cooperative through the process.

And though the house isn't completely renovated, the gallery has been open to visitors for the past six weeks. Smith said about 200 visitors have signed the guest book.

The art is eclectic, ranging from Smith's own glass etchings, to doll houses, to paintings of seascapes, still lifes, great blue herons and old movie posters.

The original idea was to charge a $2 entry fee to the gallery, but Smith said after he watched groups walk up the driveway and turn around, he decided against it.

"Practically everyone who comes in is happy here," Smith said.

Smith has an inventory of more than 33,000 brushes for sale, along with other art supplies and printer ink. He intends for the alternative revenue streams to fund the gallery along with visitor donations.

Artist Theresa Cangelosi also offers painting lessons at the gallery on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Smith said the classes are $20 an hour.

A grand opening porch party is set for Saturday starting at 2 p.m.

The Gallery of Arts and Antiques is located at 259 Howell Ave. in Brooksville. The gallery can be reached by phone at (352) 754-8509 or by email at artworks7q@gmail.com. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

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