Blue Phrog celebrates birthday

Suzanne and Phil Hurst stand with their daughter, Phoebe, during the Blue Phrog Gallery's second birthday celebration Feb. 25. (Reporter photo/Christine Boatwright)

By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer

MONTEVALLO – After two years of displaying local art to the citizens of Shelby County, the Blue Phrog Gallery throws a party of appreciation for its artists and patrons.

Phil and Suzanne Hurst opened their gallery in January 2009.

“We plan on being here for the long haul; we own the building and the land,” Suzanne Hurst said. “We’ve had so much support from the town. The celebration is for us because the town has been so good to us, but it’s also for the artists to celebrate and meet the people who buy their artwork.”

Suzanne retired from her long-term job in order to open the gallery.

“I don’t have much art talent of my own,” she said. “I’ve loved this building since I can here, and I always told Phil that this building needs to be an art gallery.

“Most of our artists come by finding us, but some come by knowing a friend of a friend,” she said. “When I opened the gallery, I was concerned that I would have no art to display, but news spread by word of mouth.”

Karen Neal, a local jewelry artist, displays her wares in the Blue Phrog.

“I’d been making jewelry for myself for six or seven years, but I liked it too much (so I kept the pieces).  My son kept telling me I should think about selling it,” Neal said. “I’ve had my jewelry in the gallery since November.”

Painter Jennifer Hartwell began displaying her oversized acrylic paintings at the Blue Phrog six months ago.

“I knew all my life I wanted to paint,” the former nurse said, “but the longer I lived, the more I let fear in. But when I started painting, I didn’t stop.

“I feel a real warmth in here tonight,” she said, speaking of the support of the community.