Flagler Artists: An in-home experience for the artistic sense awaits…

If you have not been to Bess Studio located at 3 Surf Drive in Palm Coast, Sundays in December are your opportunity to tour this unique in-house gallery.
To say that the gallery of Erik and Helene Bess is in-house is an understatement. The couple’s entire home — from murals on the ceilings and walls to unique cut-out pieces of wildlife — is their artwork. It serves as examples for potential clients to preview in a home setting. Touring the home is its own artsy experience.
“Not everyone could live here,” Helene told Palm Coast Magazine.
Erik chimed in, “You know that artists live here. That is for sure.”
And that works for the couple – both of whom have dedicated their life’s work to art.
It is unusual for a both members in a husband/wife partnership to be artists, Erik said.
But for he and Helene it truly was love at first sight.
They met in 1989 when Helene was hired on as an artist for the tee shirt company where Erik was the art director.
Turns out they had too much in common not to fall in love: Same age and both had a 1987 Ford Escort in red.
“That must be divine order,” Erik recalls. “Point is, we definitely belong together. He is in his studios in the garage and she in her studio in the house.”
They moved to Palm Coast in 1998 and immediately turned their home into a showcase gallery.
The strategy worked as during the housing boom for the next ten years, the couple painted and painted murals in the new homes. They lost track of just how many they did in homes up and down the East Coast and especially in Florida.
They both also paint fine, frameable art. Erik uses a dry brush technique combined with his own unique rendering of light and dark shading — never ever using an airbrush, he accentuates — to create images he defines as a bridge between the abstract and the specific.
Helene’s solo paintings employ whimsical characters in “fun” settings. Her past textile experience comes out in her paintings in the varied patterns of her work as well as the inclusion of texture. Helene takes her individual artwork even further crossing over into “word art” by penning short narratives attached to each painting for the viewer to read and ponder expansion of the story while looking at the painting.
Erik makes wall- mountable cut-outs from plastic and wood materials and decorates them accordingly. He’s done a variety of land and sea critters. Helene creates what she calls “Wisdom Art.” It is a 3D assemblage featuring whatever bits and pieces of metal or costume jewelry or stones or seed beads she has access to and is inspired by the desire to transform objects such as birdhouses, cigar boxes, frames, shoes and anything else that sparks creativity into pieces of art.
“One thing just leads to another,” she said.
Bess Studio is scheduled to be open Sundays from Thanksgiving to Christmas from noon to 4 PM.
You can see more great art at www.bessstudio.com.
— Amy Armstrong