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Throughout the holiday shopping days, we’re highlighting the shops of Saraota. Earlier this month, we wrote about the amazing creations of jeweler Todd Alan, and earlier this week we reported on the one-of-a-kind styles at Dream Weaver Collection. Today, we’re browsing…

Art Uptown Gallery

Sometimes a family’s not about blood ties — it’s about people coming together out of mutual interest and respect.

That’s the way Art Uptown came into being. An artist-owned gallery established in 1980 and a treasured presence on Sarasota’s Main Street since 1982, it is comprised of up to 30 local professional artists who collaborate in the running of the gallery and show their work there on a rotating basis. Membership is by application only, and judging by a recent exhibit, the standards are high.

Mixed-media creatures by Melanie Carlstein.

Shows switch out every month, so you never know what surprises you’ll find, but when we visited there recently, we found a great deal to admire (at very reasonable prices): serpentine glass art by Esther K. Jensen; endearing mixed-media creatures by Melanie Carlstein; multi-layered collage by Janet Mishner; engrossing mixed media by Laura Reed; and painterly photographs by Frank Bibbins.

An extra treat for visitors on Saturday: That’s the day a member artist staffs the gallery (paid staffers handle the rest of the week). Rita Rust, a talented watercolorist, was our gracious host, and she introduced us to Peter Christ (pronounced “Crist”), whose dynamic paintings bring a fresh perspective to Florida’s everyday landscape. We got along so well that a few days later Peter and his wife joined us at a party we were hosting at our home in St. Pete — just adding a few new members to our family.

Art Uptown Gallery, 1367 Main St., Sarasota, 941-955-5409,

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