Jen Scully may not be a household name in the art world, but she’s working on it through an output of distinctive coastal-themed work. But unlike other artists who rely on gallery owners to connect with buyers, Scully has taken matters into her own hands and launched her own gallery that highlights her work.
The Studio at Mack & Ro soft opened in January in the trendy Black Rock section of Bridgeport, with an official opening ceremony two months later. The venue, which is named after Scully’s sons Macklin and Ronan, is the latest chapter in Scully’s pursuit of a full-time art career after a 15-year career in the nonprofit sector focusing on art therapy.
“I started about four years ago selling stuff painting out of my Fairfield house,” she recalled. “After that, I was at the NEST in Bridgeport, which was a space where people could come to see my work.”
Scully began selling her work at Saltwater, a Fairfield retailer focused on apparel and gifts for mothers and children. Jessica Sokol, a co-owner of Saltwater, noted that Scully “built a very good following here in Fairfield County” and her in-store events were well attended and profitable. Sokol wondered if the two could leverage Scully’s local reputation further.
“I knew she was looking to open her own studio and expand her brand,” she said.
The women connected with Lauren Daley, an event-planning expert, and the trio focused on creating a gallery anchored in Scully’s work. “We all live in Black Rock and were dead set about starting a business here,” Sokol added.
A 700-square-foot space was found at 3002 Fairfield Ave., and its large windows offer natural lighting to illuminate Scully’s displayed works, which offer an abstract mix of nautical themes and objects along with words arranged in jolting color patterns.
“I don’t use a paintbrush,” Scully said. “It’s all raw and scraped with palette knives and rollers.”
Although the studio has a street-level presence on a busy consumer-focused street, it is not relying on foot traffic for its sales. “We are by appointment only,” Sokol stated, adding that her client base included art collectors and interior designers seeking to bring contemporary art to residential and corporate settings.
While Scully’s paintings have fueled her growing reputation in the regional art world, she is also transferring her unique artistic style into retail-friendly merchandise, including wallpaper, canvas bags, doormats and painted furniture. She has been in conversations with retailers and acknowledged she’s “gained some interest” from this sales channel.
Scully plans to share the space with her creative peers.
“We hope that once or twice a year we will bring in local artists from Bridgeport or New England, artists I’ve connected with in the past for time-limited shows,” she said.
Sokol went further, previewing a more ambitious plan for the venue.
“We hope to be able to do a wide range of events,” she said. “We are looking into doing some panels with different artists, collectors and designers — ticketed events for people in the industry or those who want to learn about art. We would like to see baby showers, business networking events and retail brands use this as a showroom where they can meet with retailers. And we would like to get involved in the community and maybe have a band here for Porchfest.”