Lovegrove's gallery is a landmark, easy to spot by the colorful, roadside Scamp trailer — Photo courtesy of Gina BirchYou wont have to question whom the artist is when visiting the Leoma Lovegrove Gallery in the Fort Myers area. She is the one wearing the wacky Walt Disney-style glasses, night and day.
The colorful art gallery on Matlacha (mat-la-SHAY) Island attracts thousands of tourists just by its funky appearance and thousands more who are art lovers and fans of Lovegrove.
A graduate of the prestigious Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, FL, the eclectic artist opened a gallery and studio on this off shoot of Pine Island, home to shrimpers and fishermen. An island with no beach; some say it’s a blessing others say a curse, as a beach would surely have changed the type of tourist flocking to it.
Easy to find, Hard to Forget
Lovegrove’s gallery is a landmark on Matlacha and has become a magnate for other creative types. In the last decade, numerous cheerful galleries have popped up in a short stretch around it. You’ll spot Lovegroves’ by the pink roof and the psychedelic Scamp trailer parked in the front, with portraits of the Beatles peering from the rear window. Inside the gallery, you’ll find an entire series of Beatles inspired art. Lovegrove's Gallery is full of funky, colorful one-of-a-kind pieces — Photo courtesy of Leoma Lovegrove Gallery
The 60’s vibe is apparent in whatever she paints, from animals and celebrities to hearts and flora. Lovegrove says, “I wish everyone could have one of my hearts.” She has a prolific collection of them, most of which are affordable to the average collector.
One of the most exciting things about visiting this gallery is the fact that you can buy many pieces sold here without spending your entire vacation budget. Sure her larger, original works get into the tens of thousands of dollars, but prints of them can be purchased for as little as fifteen dollars.
The small gallery is chock full of art that explodes in color and creativity, like the painted coconut postcards. Real coconuts from Lovegrove’s trees are splashed with her imagination, then mailed to lucky recipients all over the US. Spot Lovegrove in her gallery and all over town, in her goofy glasses — Photo courtesy of Kirsten Troyer Photography/Leoma Lovegrove Gallery
Behind the gallery you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into an Allison and Wonderland inspired set. The botanical gardens have a mosaic walkway and palm trees with painted trunks. Recycled water bottles dipped in neon colors that glow at night, are planted in the garden.
All of this is set against the backdrop of the brackish waters of Matlacha Pass. The gallery has a dock if you decide to boycott the bridge and arrive by boat. You can even purchase packages that include a stay in her cottage.
The artist not only finds great inspiration from her Florida surroundings but also the French landscape that impressionist Claude Monet, is famous for painting. Lovegrove is the first American to paint on Monet’s floating studio on the Seine River.
Growth of the Brand
Lovegrove doesn’t limit her work to canvas, but also uses cotton. When it is time for a big event, Lovegrove paints a new outfit rather than buy one, down to her shoes. This is the kind of attire she donned for a White House reception, invited by former First Lady Barbara Bush, who hung one of Lovegrove's ornaments on a Capital Christmas tree. Lovegrove's 'Good Day Sunshine' collection can be found at Bealls Department Stores across Florida — Photo courtesy of Bealls Department Stores
The executives of Bealls department store were so enamored with Lovegrove’s style, they have partnered with her, creating a line of colorful clothing and happy home accessories. Known as ‘The Florida Store,” the collection at Bealls allows you to shop for a piece of this artist's heart even if you cant make it out to her welcoming gallery.