Our story- Once upon an island time

Once upon an island time, 5 different women with 5 different backgrounds and 5 different ages spanning 40 years all fell in love with the same little island on the coast of northeast Florida. They each knew they loved the beach and the marshes and the big sky with beautiful changing clouds. They loved the island's diversity and charm. Each one found the island calling to them to make it their forever home. Each one loved these same things but they did not know each other. Each one loved creating things that were beautiful and fun and maybe a little funky sometimes. Each one had different ways they liked to do this. Each one had a secret wish in her heart that she wanted her very own special place to make things.


Susan and Linda met each other in the summer of 2012. At first Susan thought, " This woman is not going to be my friend! She is from NJ!"

But life had a surprise for Susan. And for Linda. They had more in common than they thought. They became good friends and starting talking about finding a place where they could paint together. At that time, Susan was using her coffee table and Linda was using her kitchen table.

Linda started going to an art class at the I AA on Thursdays. A happy blonde started to come to the class too. She loved to paint natural things with watercolors. But she still lived part time in Minnesota. “Brrrr, Too cold,” thought Linda and Susan.


Soon, Mary said, “It's a happy day! I now live here all the time!” Then, Mary and Linda and Susan looked for a place to paint together. They found it for awhile and learned more about painting and about having a gallery in Fernandina. The place had many stairs.  They had to climb up, up up and down down down with all their art stuff. “Ugh,” said Linda, Mary and Susan.


They started looking for another place to paint. This was just when the new year turned to 2016. They wanted it to be a special place. They knew they would know it when they found it. They looked here. They looked there. They asked their friends if they knew about any special spaces... really special that also maybe had some art magic.


Meanwhile, the three met Amy who worked at a nice place that sold wine and food. Amy was cute and smart about a lot of things including wine. "Would you like to put your paintings where I have wine tastings?" asked Amy. "Yes!” they said.


One day, Susan's son came home from work and said, "I think I found a special place for you to do your painting. You have to come see it right away." Susan and Mary and Linda went to see it.  “Oh, no!” they thought. “This place is old. It has the three d's. Dark, dirty and dingy!” But the men who owned the building said, "We can make it pretty and useful, but we would need your help seeing it with artists' eyes." "We don't know," said Linda and Mary and Susan.


Then, they walked outside and there it was. A BIG, BIG BEAUTIFUL TREE. One of the biggest and most beautiful live oak trees they had ever seen. They went up to it and touched it's bark. They gazed up into its branches. The tree started to work it's magic on them. "I just love this tree! said Mary. "It's so big!" said Susan. "It is so old and wise," said Linda.


"But how could we make this place work with just the three of us? We need other artists!" Suddenly Susan said, "Guess what? Amy is an artist too! Maybe she would like to join us.

She likes to sew and dye things and work with fabrics. She is a different kind of artist than we are. And she likes wine." "I am in," said Amy right away when they asked.


Meanwhile Lisa was getting tired of teaching her art classes ALL OVER TOWN. She had to pack up everything each time. Pack, unpack. Pack, unpack. But her students loved her classes and learned a lot from her. Susan had seen Lisa painting. Lisa and her husband had gone scuba diving with Susan so she knew they loved the same things. Susan said, "Maybe Lisa would want her very own place to teach her classes!" So they asked her. "Well, um," said, Lisa. "This is a big decision. And that place has the 3 d's. It is dirty, dark and dingy." "We know," they said. "But it won't be after we work magic on it. PLEASE????" they said. "OK!" said Lisa. "And my husband is good at fixing things." "Yay" said everyone.


"We will make art here," they told the men. OK, we will fix it up,” they said. And the 5 women waited. And they looked into the dirty old windows. And they waited. "Maybe next month it will be ready," said the men. “We have to do everything right. We have to get important people to say everything is OK.” And the women waited. And then they waited some more.


Meanwhile the women met every week to plan to make art together. “We need a name!” they said. “It has to have something to do with our tree,” they thought. Canopy? Branches? Acorns? Twigs? Hmmmm. Nothing seemed right.


They looked up into the tree. "Wow, these branches are so big. They spread out and make things cool. They provide lots of shade....wait a minute. These branches go right over our building. We are ladies making art in the shade! We are Shady Ladies! That’s our name!" they all said. And everyone smiles when they tell them the name.


FINALLY FINALLY, in late July of 2016, the men said, "T3he building is ready."  "We can hardly believe it! " We are going to move in." Then, on August 18th, Lisa brought an important piece of paper to the building. "We are allowed to be open for business. The important people said everything is ok!"


And the Shady Ladies moved in their easels and tables. They moved in their brushes and their papers. They moved in their paintings and plants. Each one has their own special place. The secret of their hearts came true! The ladies smiled and laughed. And the tree smiled too.