When people think Key West they tend to think a few things: Sunshine (usually right), beaches (not so great compared to other parts of Florida) and margaritas (duh). But often overlooked is the abundance of local art. There are so many galleries along Duval Street, not to mention all of the other galleries up and down the other streets of Key West.
In a quest for birthday gifts and wedding gifts over the past couple of months, I have been to Guild Hall a bunch of times, each visit yielding the perfect gift for the recipient. Guild Hall Gallery, located at 614 Duval Street, is convenient to everything. They are a cooperative of many artists, offering everything from photography and paintings to jewelry, glass and fabrics. There is something here for everyone. Babka likes it because it is air conditioned and she can lie on the cool floor while I shop.
Whether you are looking for a souvenir for yourself (a nice photo for your bathroom, perhaps?) or a gift for someone else, there is a range of products that fits a wide variety of tastes and budgets. In a moment of frustration, having no idea what to get for friends/dog lovers, I strolled into Guild Hall, expecting to leave empty handed, but instead managed to find a great, colorful dog piece by Sonia Robinson. I love it, the newlyweds loved it, and it now hangs above the hooks for their dogs’ leashes.
This past weekend, I was looking for a gift for a friend’s upcoming wedding. I perused their registry and was uninspired. (Hint: if you register for lots of place settings of China and flatware, it makes it much easier for us to buy. That is a topic for another day, though.) So I started looking in some galleries for good gift ideas. As always, I ended up at Guild Hall with the perfect gift in hand. Two large glass platters with two small glass plates in coordinating colors and patterns. They are beautiful.
My one beef with Guild Hall? They are run by the artists, and thus not run in the most sophisticated manner. The sales are logged into a spiral notebook. With a pen. As I needed my gift shipped, the gentleman working had to call the artist who made my pieces and have her quote a shipping price. Say it with me, people: QuickBooks and a UPS account. It is not that hard. Plus, when you automate it, I won’t have to remind you not to charge me sales tax since you are shipping out of state.
Despite the obvious room for improvement in the day to day running of Guild Hall, it is a wonderful gallery with loads of options for all the gift recipients in your life.