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Gallery to feature unconventional art

Deb Munroe has taken a long-neglected downtown space and turned it into a site for quirky and unconventional art.

Her Sassy Green Gallery, which has been open since last fall as part of Suffolk’s Premier Art, Retail and Cultural Initiative at 116 N. Saratoga St. downtown, will feature Wonderland, an exhibit of 20 to 30 paintings by Suffolk resident Chris Jeanguenat beginning Saturday and running through June 1.

“She’s got these fabulous paintings … it’s just a very different style that people haven’t seen before,” Munroe said.

The show is part of the SPARC Initiative’s Second Saturdays, which is this Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. and features the opportunity to tour more than 20 artist studios at OnePast7, with some artists holding demonstrations. There is also an artisans’ sales gallery – the SPARC Shoppe – with original works by more than 30 artists and craftspeople, as well as art activities. The event is free and open to the public.

“We’re trying to create a focal place for people to just look and see what’s going on with everybody,” said SPARC founder and president Ed Beardsley.

He said he like for downtown to have a Cultural District and not just an Arts District, but in the meantime, he hopes for Second Saturdays to appeal to a wide range of people and interests.

“We’re trying to be very mindful not to pigeon-hole in one direction,” Beardsley said.

Munroe, a metal artist who lives in Portsmouth, came to Suffolk by way of Beardsley. She had needed space to work in preparation for a solo show at the Norfolk Botanical Garden, and Beardsley had a space available for her.

While that space worked for her at the time, she craved something brighter, so in April 2018, Munroe and Beardsley had a look at the North Saratoga Street space, which she said hadn’t been cleaned in about 25 years. About three months’ work went into it for the two of them to ready the space, and now it hosts a small studio for Munroe, a larger space for the gallery and yet another space for Beardsley to have an office.

“A lot of sweat equity went into it,” Munroe said.

It still needs a little more TLC to keep it open year-round, as it does not yet have heating, but Munroe is hopeful that some fundraising will help her in that endeavor.

Her aim is to find a niche in Suffolk to present a different kind of art, with the goal for the Sassy Green Gallery of having rotating shows of unconventional art for every Second Saturday.

“I know we’ve not had that in Suffolk before,” Munroe said. “My goal is to get a new take on art in Suffolk.”

Opening up the gallery for the first time this year in conjunction with Second Saturdays, Munroe is excited for the possibilities of that and her studio.

“This whole situation is a dream of mine,” Munroe said. “I’m so fortunate to have met Ed and gotten the opportunity for this place. I’m ever so grateful for sure.”