Pursing the Dream:
Charles Carey runs art gallery from his Auntie's house
2002) Bahamian Charles Carey grew up in Nassau and spent his early
career as an accountant in New York City, but he always remembered
fondly summers as a child spent visiting relatives on Harbour Island.
When his aunt died and left a home here, he decided it was time
to pursue his dream and return here to open an art gallery. And
so, the Princess Street Gallery started in the living room of the
blue and white victorian cottage he lovingly restored. Today he
has moved the gallery to the building next door and reclaimed the
home as charming living space.
In the beginning, much of the gallery's work was produced by the
many visiting artists who come here for the island's visual charms
and special qualities of light. But because many visitors to Harbour
Island have both the taste and the means to purchase world-class
art, Charles has been able to refine the quality of his collection
to international standards.
"The few visiting artists I show now are those who have been
coming to the Island for many years," he says. Most of the
artists I show are selling their work in their home countries; its
how they make their living. Professionals send me slides of their
work from around the world. I rarely take on new artists unless
someone shows me something amazing."
doesn't mean, however, that his gallery has stopped featuring the
sights of island life. "Most visitors to Harbour Island want
something to remind them of their visit," he says. But whether
the subject is a swimming nude, a flower-draped cottage, or a scene
of chickens in the street, the works show subtlety, depth, and variety
for the visitor who takes the time to appreciate the collection.
"Every artist brings his or her own vision and interpretation,"
he explains. "A dozen artists might paint a particular cottage
here and they will all be very different."
A wide range of work
The Princess Street Gallery also carries work from some of the
most famous Bahamian artists including the internationally known,
visionary "outsider artist" Amos Ferguson. Ferguson was
working as a housepainter in mid-life when he says he received a
call from God to paint art instead of houses. A few of his large,
vivid, icon-like works are displayed in the gallery's front window.
Princess Street Gallery also offers the work of a few noted photographers
including Dwight Hiscano, who owns a house here, Edna Gray, and
Bahamian Tony Klonaris. "I carry sculpture, oils, watercolors,
acrylics, etchings, jewelry. I try to carry something for everyone,
from someone who can appreciate and afford a $4,500 etching to someone
who just wants to bring home a $10 print."
he's not tending the gallery, Charles can often be seen man-about-townly
tooling around in his blue Jeep Tracker with his dog Bandit. Charles
is generally low-key and easy going but not above an occasional
mordant comment on the social scene. Asked how he had adjusted to
the limitations of small town life after living in Nassau and New
York, Charles paused with a perplexed look. Whats not
to like? he said. Of course I visit friends in New York
every fall, and I go to the States for major shopping. But I was
in a huge shopping mall recently, and it disturbed me. When your
heart is here, that style of life becomes repulsive.
Still, people who think life in Harbour Island is sleepy are often
in for a surprise, he says. "Part of my idea in coming here
was to have time to paint. But running the gallery, keeping up with
friends, and making sure Bandit gets his nightly run on the beach
keeps me far too busy."