Arts on Granada held its first exhibition Jan. 6.
When Melissa Bell was battling leukemia, lions were her thing. The 19-year-old shared the love of the animal with her mom, Mary Unson, and her father and brothers. After she had died, Unson kept lions close to her heart — sometimes even without realizing it.
"I have a thing for the man of the moon," she said, her hands running over the lines of the face she had burned into a small piece of wood. "So when I made this necklace, a woman asked me what I had burned into the background. I looked closely and didn't see anything. The woman said she saw a lion face. And once I saw it, I couldn't unsee it."
Now, Unson wears the necklace every day to keep her daughter's memory alive. In fact, Bell is the reason Unson is showing her woodburning work at Arts on Granada's first exhibit. She recently quit her job as an MRI technologist to pursue her artistic passions.
"She used to give me a hard time," Unson said with a smile. "She would say, 'You're always tellings us to chase our dreams. Why don't you chase yours?'"
Unson was among the over 20 local artists who are currently featured in the newest gallery in Ormond Beach. The gallery's first exhibit opened Jan. 6, for solo artist Margaret Schnebly Hodge. The award-winning Ormond Beach artist's collection, "Breaking Free: Dark Energy, Dark Matter” was inspired by leading-edge scientific discoveries, blending the known with the myriad mysteries of the heavens.
Located at 67 W. Granada Blvd., Arts on Granada is a newly formed art cooperative that hopes to promote local artists and their work. Artist Dr. Mark Convoy said the space has been on his wishlist for years.
"I've been waiting for so long for a gallery with guts to open up here," he said. "And the fact that it is a co-op is really encouraging because every artist here is invested. The altruism from this place is going to be contagious in the community."