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ART! Honey Gallery creating beauty – Brendan Higgins

by Brendan Higgins, contributing writer

A new gift shop/art gallery has opened in the Ocean State. I decided to stop by and check it out for myself. When I walked inside, I immediately felt the positive energy in the space. I didn’t know where to look first. From wall to wall, something would grab my attention. I decided to take my time looking around. I didn’t want to miss anything. This was my first impression of Honey Gallery, located at 6465 Post Road, in North Kingstown.

The owners of this new venture are Nancy Reid Carr of North Kingstown, and Eric Carter of Pomfret, Connecticut. Both are well known and respected members of the art community. Together, they have set the bar extremely high with this exciting new venture.

I sat down with this creative couple to learn firsthand about their vision for Honey Gallery. I wanted to know how they arrived here. Nancy is the mother of two daughters, Thea (16) and Dylan Rose (14). Nancy was incredibly open speaking about her life’s journey. She said, “I grew up in North Haven, Connecticut. I graduated from North Haven High School in 1992. After that, I went to Roger Williams University for creative writing. I also took art classes and studied photography. I left in my junior year, much to my parents’ chagrin. Then I headed out to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to pursue my true love of art. I attended the College of Santa Fe, and the Community College of Santa Fe. They had really great art programs there. Santa Fe is literally art everywhere. “I asked Nancy why she went to New Mexico, and she said, “I was just pulled there. I was 21 years old. I drove out there by myself. At the time, none of my friends were able to go. I felt if I didn’t go by myself, I might never go. I didn’t know anyone there. I didn’t even have a plan for when I arrived. I didn’t tell anyone I was going. After a stop in Charleston, South Carolina, to visit a friend, I went to New Mexico. When I got there, I called my parents to tell them where I was. I also told them I was not coming home. It was the most terrifying thing I had ever done. I went up to a bulletin board in Wild Oats and found an ad for a roommate. I went to a pay phone to call about the ad. I ended up moving into this house with four other crazy people. I found a job at Sioux Trading Post. It was a Native American supply store. When I walked in to ask about a job, a woman I knew from Providence was there. They were looking for someone, so I got the job. It was just one of those serendipitous things. Later, I ended up getting another job at the Aztec Café. It was the coolest coffee shop I had ever seen. This was where I met everyone. It was essentially the local hangout of misfits. Santa Fe was all these ‘out there’ people. It was the first time in my life I didn’t feel like the strangest, most misunderstood person in the world. Santa Fe is this place that will embrace you, then after you have your growth, it will also spit you out. After about five years I came back to Rhode Island.” Nancy reflected on her time in the Southwest saying, “I miss that part of my life sometimes. When I feel the heaviness of adult responsibility, I think back to that time in my life and how I was able to be free.”

Nancy is obviously a woman not afraid of taking chances. She explained, “My career over the past 15 years has led me to this. I finished my art degree at URI in 2004. I started doing metal prints and jewelry. That was the beginning of my self-employment. I started selling to stores. I started going to wholesale trade shows around the country. I loved doing that. At the peak I was doing 30-35 shows a year. Eventually, I got burnt out. It wasn’t fun anymore. My work had become more production oriented and less creative. Making the same thing over and over and shipping it out. I felt like there was no meaning in what I was doing anymore.”

Nancy was ready for a change. She was winding down from the grind of traveling. She began utilizing online venues. In reality, she didn’t need to do the tradeshows anymore. Through years of arduous work and endless travel, she had built a brand. She had arrived.  

Before Honey Gallery opened, Nancy took a job as a consultant setting up a store featuring local artist. Nancy explained, “That job showed me I wanted to do something like Honey Gallery, but I wanted to do it my own way. I enjoyed setting up a store for another company. From the merchandising to the buying. They hired me because of my connections. I know everybody. At this point, I had been self employed for 10 years. The company I was working for didn’t always want to go in the same direction as I did. It was very stifling for me. In the end, it wasn’t going to work. Eric also worked for them at the same time. Once Honey Gallery was set up, we bowed out.” While Nancy was sharing her experience about leaving the company, I continued to scan the store admiring all the incredible inventory. So, needless to say, the two of them leaving, was their previous employers’ loss.

Eric grew up in North Kingstown just down the road from his new business. He recalled, “I lived just south of Wickford. I graduated from North Kingstown High School in 1986. I used to walk to school on a path off Boston Neck Road. After that, I went to Rhode Island College. I graduated with a BFA in Sculpture and Metal Smithing. Over the years I’ve done some work with polished concrete countertops. I did a lot of work on my own, but I also was on a crew working for a guy who owns over a dozen nursing homes in Rhode Island. We were the mobile crew who went in and built the nurses stations. We replaced doors and windows. We put on additions. We also did remodeling. After that, I went out on my own doing a lot of bathrooms, waterproofing systems, tile and all the plumbing that goes along with that. I’ve also done a number of kitchens.”

Eric is one of those guys who can do any home improvement you could imagine. His reputation speaks for itself. However, he has a gift for creating furniture. Honey Gallery has some of his amazing furniture not only for sale but as part of the store décor. He remained humble when asked about his work. He said, “It goes back to my days in college. Learning the ins and outs of composition and design. A lot of the stuff I worked with involve brass, copper, metal, there’s a lot of soldering. A lot of the displays I have come up with to showcase the work involved wood and joinery. A lot of it was self-taught. Back then it was kind of a hobby. Then a lot of the things I learned along the way being a contractor and doing finish carpentry lent themselves to what I do with furniture. I studied under an amazing design and sculpture person named Kris John Horvat. The other major influence on me was his complete opposite. A super outgoing guy who just recently passed away, Enrico Pinardi. They were the two major influences on what I am doing today.”

Some of the unique gift ideas at Honey Gallery

If you would like to consult with Eric about his business, Carter Furniture, you can contact him at (401) 408-2623. You can also visit his company website at ecarterdesign.com. You will be amazed at his work with repurposed wood and steel. The items on display at Honey Gallery are only a small sample of his brilliant work. He looks forward to hearing from you.

Nancy and Eric welcome you to Honey Gallery

As you can see, individually these two lived highly creative lives. They always wanted to have a collaborative business together. They kicked around different ideas before landing here. Once they merged together, the Honey Gallery opening was only a matter of time. As for the Gallery itself, it has to be seen to be believed. Eric said, “Nancy handles 90 percent of what goes on inside the store.” Nancy added, “I had the experience from the seller’s end getting to know my buyers. I know how they operate. They all operate differently.” Nancy decides what will be in the store. She is extremely selective. Nancy said, “The most exciting part of doing this has been pulling it all together.”

If you are familiar with the art community, you will recognize the names of the artists displayed inside Honey Gallery. In addition to Eric and Nancy, you will find the work of Michelle Phaneuf, Lee Karvonen, Sean Harrington, Suzanne Tanner, Deb Terelli, Ashley Schwebel, Jen and Brian Amara, Michael Chatterley, and Kim Gonzaga. Nancy is always adding new creations from these amazing artists as well as others. Nancy told me the store is always changing and evolving. You could come in one day and the store will look different than it did on your previous visit. I can report she has accomplished everything she set out to do.

If you are looking for a unique gift, you want to check out Honey Gallery. You will find jewelry, furniture, pottery, fine art photography and paintings, hand blown glass, handbags, letter press greeting cards, organic bath and body products, candles, handmade baby gifts and yes, even some honey. You can find everything from an affordable quick gift to beautiful high end wall art.

Honey Gallery has something for everyone

I enjoyed my visit to the store but more so enjoyed speaking with Eric and Nancy. I mentioned feeling the positive energy when I entered Honey Gallery. After spending time with this couple, I can easily see the good vibes and energy comes from them. Yes, it is a business, but it’s a business built on heart and soul.

For more information you can visit Honey Gallery on Facebook. You can also visit their website at honeygalleryri.com.

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Brendan Higgins, writer and author, RIPTA bus driver, former professional wrestler (Knuckles Nelson), and North Kingstown resident.

We welcome Brendan as a contributing writer to RINewsToday.

To read a story about Brendan, from our sports department, go to: https://rinewstoday.com/knuckles-nelson-waking-up-from-the-wrestling-ring-to-the-yoga-mat-john-cardullo/

To read all stories by Brendan, here, go to: https://rinewstoday.com/brendan-higgins/

Higgins is the author of “Waking Up: From the Wrestling Ring to the Yoga Mat”

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