A new Cambria art gallery has ties to a retailer familiar to many North Coast residents.
The owner of the Monarch Gallery, Natalie Marks, is the daughter of Leslie Marks, who sold the popular children’s store Froggies de Cambria in 2009.
“She always does tons and tons of stuff,” Natalie Marks said of her mom, including paint, crochet and the ukulele.
Today, the two female Marks collaborate at the Monarch Gallery, Natalie looking after the artists and running the business and Leslie as a mentor, helping and contributing to her own art.
Monarch Gallery opened in May at 755 Main Street, Unit B, wedged between Caren’s Corner and Cambria Coffee Roasting Co. It’s across the block from Froggies, now owned by Norma Casas.
Monarch Gallery’s current stock includes hats, scarves, quilts, jewelry, ceramics, wall art, handmade cards, and local stones.
The gallery occupies the same small location that once housed the late Gayle Sewell’s Chambers Gallery. Leslie Marks told Sewell for years that it was “the best place in Cambria,” her daughter said.
The idea for Monarch Gallery was born out of a conversation between the two women of Marks and the owner of the place, Tom Beal, “who sold me ice cream at Caren’s Corner when I was a child,” Natalie Marks said with a laugh.
The location of the gallery had just become vacant.
Beal and Leslie Marks “kept staring at me and making it sound like I should open a gallery there,” the young woman said. “I was just sitting there, listening, thinking, ‘This is a little bit absurd,’ but it actually kinda looked like something I would do.”
Thinking back to “all the craft shows we had when I was a kid, all the business classes I took in college, all the people I know here who have owned or operated businesses. now own, “said Natalie Marks,” I thought I could pool all of these people for ideas, get local feedback.
Originally, she believed Sewell had simply retired, but sadly found out that the longtime gallerist had passed away from a long illness.
At first, Marks decided to open a cooperative gallery on site to help the artists Sewell has represented for so many years. But Sewell was such a considerate and caring person that “she made sure all of her artists went into other local galleries before she closed her shop,” Marks said.
So the 23-year-old entrepreneur and her mother thought again. They decided to present the works of “local artists from the central coast and a few others by invitation only,” recalled Natalie Marks.
Their artistic stable includes “about 20 people from Cambria, and almost everyone is from the rest of the county,” she said.
One of the artists whose works are on display at the Monarch Gallery is Kass Flaig from Atascadero.
Flaig’s sales Rock carvings Hearts of the Earth raising funds for residents who need financial assistance during medical situations, said Marks, including the late Earl Moon, Michael Miller and Seneca Jacobson.
Monarch Gallery guests include “two Ventura exhibiting artists who are here every other weekend or so,” Marks said, explaining that “they have family members living here.”
The gallery “is filling up really beautifully,” Marks said proudly. “It’s really about this space and the vibe that Gayle left here.”
Monarch Gallery is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 805-395-0560.