A Farewell To Dabbert Gallery

Arts & Culture

Photo taken by Philip Lederer.

A Palm Avenue staple for nearly 20 years, Dabbert Gallery Fine Painting & Sculpture made its name championing local artists like Barbara Krupp, Jeff Cornwell, and James Griffin, and brought art from Ukraine, Australia, Norway and more to Sarasota’s shores. And since first opening those gallery doors in 2004, husband and wife owners David and Patricia Dabbert have been a regular sight on every First Friday Artwalk. But after 18 years, citing encroaching development and rising rent, the gallery will be closing its doors permanently at the end of the month.

In the remaining weeks, the gallery will keep its regular hours and nearly all of the artwork is available for purchase at a substantial discount.

When the Dabberts first moved to Sarasota in 1993, they were escaping the cold and had no idea it was an arts town. But the hunt for a good restaurant took them to Palm Avenue one evening right around 7pm. It was a Friday. “And we saw the magic,” says David Dabbert. “Hundreds and hundreds of people out on the sidewalks, music playing, and, every few steps, another gallery.” 10 years later, when a space opened on Palm, the Dabberts leapt at their chance to open their own gallery and join the party.

It was harder work than they thought it would be, but more rewarding than they imagined. Their only barometer was quality, quickly collecting 25-30 artists to represent and developing a long-term relationship with each. And whereas other galleries might eject an artist after a few months of no sales, the Dabberts were in for the long haul. “We were here for artists because we were artists,” says Dabbert. “So when we committed to someone, we were committed.” Before they knew it, a two-year lease turned into 13 years. Then a jump in 2017, just a few doors down to its current larger space on Palm, formerly home of the Hodgell Gallery,

That space is now full to bursting with around 300 works of art. And with the gallery closing, it’s all looking for a new home. Massive oil paintings by Barbara Krupp are 50% off; pastel portraits by Jeff Cornell are 40%, as are many watercolors by Robert Baxter. Find acrylics on canvas by Argentinian professor of art Gustavo Paris, practicing some neon galactism inspired by images from the Hubble Telescope, next to oils by Norwegian professor of art Peter Esdaile, whose lean into the fantastic brushes the mythological. Even the pedestals are on sale.

But it was never about the money, says Dabbert, an admittedly poor salesman who has, perhaps more than once, talked his way out of a sale because he wanted the client to be sure before they bought. “It was about being involved in the arts and being surrounded by good art,” says Dabbert. And so it’s a difficult farewell for a duo who loved what they did so much that they haven’t taken a vacation or closed the gallery for more than a day in over eight years. “We were really fortunate to have the privilege to represent some very talented and accomplished artists, and many of them we consider our friends,” says Dabbert. “You take it for granted, but it really is special. This is a special community.”

Photo taken by Philip Lederer.

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