On Mother’s Day of 2018, Suzie Marty gave birth to Everett & Charlie, figuratively speaking.
Since then the Linden Hills art gallery — named for her grandsons, ages 4 and 2, respectively — has been her labor of love to create a new kind of space for local artwork as well as one-of-a-kind experiences.
It all began quite serendipitously.
Marty was on her way out to dinner with a friend, chatting about the possibility of opening her own gallery, when they walked past a prime storefront near 43rd & Sheridan and wondered why no one had leased it yet.
“It was right next to Wild Rumpus, where I had brought my sons and then my grandsons,” Marty said. “I said, ‘This is my gallery.’”
Over the next three months, Marty called in connections from artists across the Twin Cities, hoping to get at least 12 artists to showcase their work in the new gallery on consignment.
Quickly, she ended up with more than 25 local artists who were seriously interested. And that was just the start.
For Marty, life as an artist began at birth. She grew up crafting and creating — as soon as she could keep her head upright — and hasn’t stopped since.
“There’s no becoming an artist — you can’t get it out of you. It’s who you were meant to be,” she said. “There’s an undercurrent of not being satisfied when you’re not giving it attention.”
Although Marty didn’t grow up in a family where art was a core value, she’s chosen art every step of the way in her life — from winning a grade-school poster contest run by the Montevideo Fire Department, to practically living and breathing in the art wing of Anoka High School, to studying art history and education at St. Cloud State University.
In the years following, Marty worked as an art buyer, a residential mural painter, the proprietor of a gift gallery in Waconia and a docent at the Minneapolis Institute of Art — mulling over, but not taking the steps to open her own gallery.
In 2012, however, she had an eye-opening experience: She went through a divorce and cancer in the same year.
“It was a wake-up call,” Marty said. “Live life the way you want. It’s not about money; it’s about experiencing life. It’s a dream — and you can hope all you want, but you need to take action.”
Exploring her own art
It was at that point when Marty made a shift to creating art informed by her experiences.
“Life events are the core of where a lot of art comes from,” she said. “It can be personal.”
She also stopped feeling shy about letting people see her home art studio — and the works inside.
“I was very, ‘Nobody come in!’” Marty said. “Now? I could care less.”
Marty’s most-used materials include watercolor, acrylics and mixed media, though she’s explored other avenues, too — ceramics at Minnesota State University, Mankato, glassblowing at Anoka Ramsey and printmaking and watercolors at St. Cloud State (taught by the Coen brothers’ mother).
Although her gallery started out void of her own works — she’s been too busy cheering on the local artists she’s so fond of — she’s currently working on a wide range of pieces that will eventually have their time in the space.
That includes a collection of abstract paintings, inspired by photos of prairie lands taken by her oldest son, paired with poems written by her youngest son.
Sharing her passion
Before Everett and Charlie were born, Marty was already encouraging personal expression through art with her sons.
“When my oldest son was little, I came out of the house to see he had drawn all over the car,” Marty laughed. “But I thought, ‘Pictures first, clean later.’”
Today, Marty’s oldest son is a photographer, while her youngest is a writer and poet who came up with Everett & Charlie’s tagline: “A gallery where art meets experience.”
Although Marty can’t imagine life without her grandchildren (or “little cubs,” as she calls them), she said it can still be very surreal being a grandmother (or “Oma,” as she’s referred to by Everett and Charlie).
“They shifted my way of living when they were born — in terms of living the life that
I want to live in a way that they will be proud of me,” Marty said. “There’s such a love around it that’s hard to explain in words. But I can express it through art.”
As a business owner and a single mother/grandmother, Marty acknowledges the shifting view of how grandmothers play a role in their grandchildren’s lives.
“I’m not the grandma to have them on a weekly basis,” Marty said. “I’m going be the one that’s going to take them to art museums and concerts and festivals. I’m going to be the one to get them memberships for the Duluth aquarium or zoo and then go home and talk about the monkeys and draw pictures of them.”
Marty said it’s especially fulfilling to be a female role model for her grandsons.
“Since I’m a single grandma, there’s importance in that, too,” Marty said. “I’m a strong, independent woman and a grandma, doing it all on my own.”
Variety and quality
Each month, Marty’s gallery showcases a featured artist, kicked off by an opening reception. Throughout the gallery, visitors will find numerous other art pieces for sale in a variety of media, including paintings, sculpture, jewelry, photography and even home goods and clothing.
“Once people get in here, they’re surprised about the variety, quality, depth and energy of the pieces,” Marty said.
Some notable local artists with international acclaim include jewelry designer Robyn Robinson and collage artist Kristi Abbott.
The main goal of Everett & Charlie, Marty said, is to bring in people from all walks of life, with varying knowledge of art, and help them find pieces that speak to their experiences.
“I always say, ‘The gallery is you.’ I’ve gotten bolder about telling people to buy pieces that speak to them,” Marty said.
The gallery also provides opportunities for customers to meet the artists in person.
“The work will stand on its own,” she said. “But sharing stories with customers leads to that personal emotional connection.”
The gallery’s experiential niche is not just about connecting with art and artists.
Everett & Charlie has already hosted live music performances, art demonstrations and author events, including a recent discussion and signing by author Annette Rugolo — all in the gallery space, among the art and the energy it creates.
In June, the gallery created an outdoor experience with next-door neighbor The Harriet Brasserie, celebrating its seven-year anniversary alongside the gallery’s first anniversary. In the side alley, attendees celebrated with food, drinks, art and music.
And now Marty is teaming up with The Harriet Brasserie to host private catered events in the gallery, such as dinner parties, wine tastings, corporate gatherings and other smaller celebrations.
Of course, the artists’ openings have a festive feel, such as Prosecco, Paintings, & Ed, a midday Sunday soiree this past July that featured mixed-media artist and photographer Edward Bock.
Bock said he appreciated how Marty was supportive and friendly while also being organized, business-knowledgeable and sales-motivated.
“Everything an artist needs,” Bock said. “Suzie is an art lover and curator who loves organizing and arranging artworks in her gallery to give her customers the best experience possible. Her welcoming presence is the sparkle on the art.”
Freedom to be fearless
Marty’s fearlessness — and her belief that art truly has no boundaries — might be part of that magic.
“There’s no judgment in art, no favorites,” she said. “It changes depending on what mood you’re in.”
That freedom is expressed in her home and in the gallery.
“I had a woman from out of state tell me she loved how everything is hung in here, which is how my home looks — with modern pieces next to more traditional pieces,” Marty said.
Others have had similar reactions.
“They think it’s brave — it’s not brave,” she said. “It’s everything I love.”
As the gallery has come into its own, Marty has started to see the parallels between the gallery’s growth and that of her young grandsons.
“It’s fun to see progression with both,” Marty said. “As they grow up, I want them to be able to pour the wine here and show their work here.”
Everett & Charlie
Where: 2720 W. 43rd St.
Phone: 612-444-8706 or 612-991-7228
Hours: 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Wednesday–Saturday; 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Sundays or by appointment
Olivia Volkman-Johnson is a local freelance writer, studying to become a pastry chef.