DEL MAR — Last year Heather Roddy learned firsthand that when one door closes, another one opens.
For four years the artist sat outside the Enchanted Gallery at the Flower Hill Promenade, where her work was displayed, painting and greeting visitors. Her whimsical art also lined the walkway. A year ago her world was rocked when the gallery closed its doors. Despite the setback, she continued to paint outdoors, on the upper and lower levels of the mall.
“Shoppers as well as Pannikin goers were able to watch a painting evolve from scratch,” she remembers. “I met some lovely people, some who are now collectors of my original works. I painted everything, all sizes and subjects such as dogs, roosters, people and flowers.”
Among those who woul d walk by were Jeffrey Essakow, mall owner, and Rose Jabin, mall manager, who encouraged her efforts to liven up the promenade. In addition to displaying her art outdoors, Roddy placed paintings in the windows of vacant stores.
“I joked about having my own gallery here one day,” she recalls. “After all, that’s every artist’s dream … and my mascot is a flying pig.”
Essakow didn’t think Roddy’s idea was farfetched.
“Long story short, I was given the keys to the once-occupied Morrison Hotel Gallery and in Jeffrey’s words told, ‘Get in there and do your thing and let’s see what happens,’” she said. “I call that faith on Jeffrey’s part. Rose has been an incredible support, guiding the ins and outs of having my own space and dropping by for coffee and healthy banter about new ideas for events.”
Today, Roddy rents on a month-to-month basis, relying on the support of the community to continue.
“People walk in with their dogs and coffee or stay for a glass of wine — it’s very interactive,” she said. “I will be coming up on my one year anniversary in May and that will be a huge celebration!”
Roddy, in turn, supports the community by making her gallery available for nonprofit events that benefit children, dogs and women’s shelters. Charities she has helped include Polinsky Children’s Center, Rady Children’s Hospital, Hearts for Healing – Scripps, the Jewish Community Center and PAWS – San Diego.
In addition to the space, she donates one of her paintings for a silent auction and even refreshments.
She also enjoys teaching. “I like to share what has taken me years to learn. I do away with the mystery, giving away every secret that has taken me years to learn. The expression on the students’ faces is everything when they see what they can accomplish by ‘Going for it!’”
Linda Hawkins became a student after wandering into the gallery last fall.
“I’m on my fourth painting,” she said. “It’s a great atmosphere and Heather is fun. Any painting you walk out with is wonderful — she doesn’t let anything out that isn’t good.”
In addition to acrylic paintings, Roddy creates furniture art and animal portraits including that of 2008 Kentucky Derby Winner “Big Brown.”
Roddy is a native San Diego, the daughter of renowned painters Gary Jenkins and Susan Jenkins. Recently she was offered her own television show, teaching painting techniques, to be aired on PBS in the fall.
Meanwhile, she counts her blessings and takes it one day at a time.
“Let’s face it,” she said. “I’m here on a wing and a prayer. There are great months and scary ones, too, just like anything. People are very surprised to see a gallery staying open during ‘these times.’ I’m told over and over and over again that the feeling in my gallery is magical, inspirational, uplifting, energetic. Are we not deserving of these feelings?”
Roddy uses the analogy of fresh flowers to convey the importance of having a piece of original art in the home.
“The right paintings will give off amazing vibrations, however, they will never perish but continue to give back,” she said.
Heather Roddy’s Gallery is located at the Flower Hill Promenade, Suite A220, in Del Mar. The gallery is open seven days a week, from noon until 8 p.m.
Children’s classes are scheduled Sundays between 3 and 6 p.m. and adults Thursdays from 5:30 to 8:35 p.m. and Fridays from 3 to 6 p.m. Cost is $75 for three hours. Purchase of art cards, five classes at $75/each, includes one free class.
For more information, visit heatherroddyartgallery.com or call (858) 395-5605.