Howe Outrageous Art Gallery & Marketplace

Southport is a mecca for art of every kind: painting, pottery, photography, jewelry making, and more. As a beautiful coastal town, it serves as inspiration for many creatives, including Kimberly and Rich Bandera. The couple—Kimberly a painter and potter and Rich a registered architect—relocated to the area a few years ago. In July 2012, Kimberly opened Howe Outrageous Art Gallery and Marketplace. Its moniker is derived from the 307 N. Howe Street location and “Outrageous,” one of the couple’s sailboats.

Kimberly Bandera is the owner of Howe Outrageous Art Gallery and Marketplace. Photo by Kris Beasley

Kimberly Bandera is the owner of Howe Outrageous Art Gallery and Marketplace. Photo by Kris Beasley

The store features works from local artists as well as live music and art classes. It is a stop on the city’s First Friday Gallery Walks, and was featured in Coastal Living as a must-see shop while visiting Southport. For more information, call (919) 363-4811 or visit www.howeoutrageous.com.

Southport Magazine (SM): How did you get your start in art, and why did you fall in love with pottery?
Kimberly Bandera (KB): Art was always a recurring theme in my life. I used to draw and paint in high school. I briefly studied interior design and learned faux painting techniques. I’ve always loved museums and art galleries. Now I have my own gallery, people buy my art, and I’m encouraging others to become more artistic! I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.

I first studied pottery about five or six years ago. I was hooked! It was relaxing; it was tactile; it was creative. I always admired the works of Rebecca Pierre and Eileen Gordon and was thrilled that they wanted to be in the gallery. We also have pottery by Jamie Futera, Kathy Scheetz and Betsy Foote. I love that every potter has a distinct style from formal to funky. I just wish I had more time to make my own pottery.

SM: Why did you desire to open an art gallery in Southport?
KB: Southport has a tradition of great art galleries, but as far as I’m concerned, the more art galleries in a town, the better. Two years ago when we opened Howe Outrageous, there were four galleries participating in the First Friday Gallery Walk, and then there were eight! With so many talented and creative people in Southport and the surrounding areas, there was a need for more venues to display their art. We now have about 50 artists represented here.

SM: What do you look for when finding artists for the gallery?
KB: I started with the artists I knew and those whose work I’d seen and liked. The quality of their work set the standard for everything we have, and most of them are still here.

One definition of “outrageous” is to exceed the limits of what is usual. I’m always looking for something out of the ordinary, like butterfly-wing earrings and oyster-shell lamps. We have gorgeous glasswork starting at $5 and stunning original paintings can cost up to a couple thousand dollars. Every piece has to be well executed and have artistic merit—that’s why we can have such diverse mediums and techniques while maintaining an environment that’s pleasing to the senses.

SM: Tell us about some of your regularly featured local artists and the works they produce.
KB: This month we are featuring two award-winning artists. Wendy Ward Milazzo specializes in black and white photography. She captures the beauty and simplicity of life on the coast, like shells that wash up on the beach, crab traps left on the docks, and marsh grass blowing in the breeze. In contrast, Gina Poppe’s art glass is a riot of color. Her large vessels shimmer with shades of blue, green, and gold. Even her “white” pieces are alive with the colors around them.

I was a photographer for my collage newspaper and have always loved the art form, so we have a lot of photography here. Chris Webster and Richard Pape have been with the gallery since day one. Chris has a way of capturing elements of Southport which other people seem to miss—like the Howe Street Maiden. Richard has just printed a book of his photos entitled “The Cape Fear River Basin.” Jerri Lynn Ward has the most glorious sunset and sunrise photos. Patti Gail Price’s work is influenced by her early years spent on Bald Head Island where her father was caretaker. Vickie Hibler has turned some of her photos into postcards featuring local landmarks. With smartphones anyone can take a decent picture nowadays, but these professionals are true artists.

We also have some talented painters. Tony Alderman has done some exquisite paintings of local sailboats and is currently working on a series featuring the Varnamtown shrimping industry. If you like vivid colors, BJ Cothran has fun, beachy paintings on canvas and wood. People love the palm frond fish by Joan Gaydos. Works by John Keiffer, Becky Haren, and Darren Mulvenna are also represented here.

SM: Howe Outrageous offers an array of art classes, too! What are some of your favorites you’d like to share with readers?
KB: Our first class was a fundraiser for the county animal shelter; now once a month people come paint their pets and we continue to donate a percentage of the class fee to the shelter. That led to a request for other art classes.

I teach the painting and collage classes. We offer jewelry and stained-glass classes taught by our artists. Lois Gandy’s mosaic glass class has sold out every time!

We also host private parties. People can book an “Arty-Party” where four to eight artists can bring their own refreshments and enjoy a class. They are great for corporate team-building activities as well as a girls’ night out. It’s amazing when a group of friends get together, paint the same subject, and come up with different interpretations.

SM: Is there anything else about your gallery readers may not be aware of?
KB: We have almost two dozen different jewelry artists here. Silversmith Barbara Bennett was the first to join us. She’s inspired by the beach and makes sea turtle, starfish, and sand dollar pendants, earrings, and charm bracelets. We have jewelry made with sea glass, aluminum, copper, felt, even orange peels. With such a variety of colors, textures, and styles, there really is something for everyone.

Favorite food: Local clams, oysters and shrimp!
Favorite book: “Persuasion” by Jane Austen
Favorite musician: Pat Benatar
Favorite place to travel: Paris
Favorite thing about Southport: The people—both the long-time residents and the newcomers. They are the reason we live and work here.

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