For Kaitee Floyd, her boss has not only been someone she sees at work but also during special moments in her life. Gallerist Cheryl Newby has been to Floyd’s wedding to her high school sweetheart and her baby shower, and now the two have shared another special milestone: handing over the keys to the Cheryl Newby Gallery.
“I think it was difficult for her to step away, but she was very excited and so was I,” says Floyd, the new owner of the gallery. “The transition just felt so smooth and so natural, and it just felt like the right next step. I will say it was a little bittersweet, but I think it was more exciting than anything else.”
Floyd, who previously held the role of gallery director, took over the Pawleys Island gallery in July. She originally joined in 2014 as a gallery assistant. Running the business as a duo, she quickly became Newby’s protégé and right-hand woman.
“We had known that this, hopefully, would have always been the plan, so she just did a great job of helping me build relationships with the clients and the artists and just really learning all of the ins and outs of the business,” Floyd says. “We have become intertwined with one another.”
Newby and her husband had an affinity for antique prints, motivating her to open the gallery back in 1983 in North Myrtle Beach. She then met Ray Ellis, who helped her expand the business and represent artists. In 2000, Newby moved the business to Pawleys Island.
Born and raised in Murrells Inlet, Floyd earned an interdisciplinary degree with an emphasis in arts management from Coastal Carolina University in 2013. After graduation, she drove down Route 17 and applied to every gallery in the area. It just so happened that Newby was looking for an assistant at that time.
“It was obvious just from being here for a few minutes that this gallery stood apart from the rest,” Floyd says, describing the openness the space offers for visitors to wander from one work to another. “I really admired her small but very talented group of artists.”
Cheryl Newby Gallery represents a hand-selected group of artists from South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Virginia, New York, California and Wyoming. This includes traditional still lifes by Ellen Buselli, landscapes by Daniel Ambrose, and abstract, color-driven works by Laura Edwards and Mike Williams. The gallery also boasts pastels, ceramics, bronze art, limited-edition prints and more.
As the new owner, Floyd plans to carry on Newby’s legacy while adding her own twists. The mother of a 2-year-old girl, Millee, she wants to make the gallery more child-friendly to give kids their first experience of visiting a gallery and learning about art. She’s also adjusted the design, such as moving a large desk away from the center of the gallery and putting up a shiplap wall so buyers can envision artwork in their own homes. People may have noticed the gallery has a stronger presence on social media, and Floyd has also been talking with artists to plan demonstrations, workshops and talks.
“I’m very much a people person, and I love talking to people. I tell them all the time that it’s the best part of my job, listening to how people perceive art, because everybody perceives it so differently,” she says.
As for Newby? She hasn’t gone far.
“I see her all the time!” Floyd says. “Cheryl will never fully step away from this gallery. She is a really great support and has been such a great backbone for me in my transition of taking over as owner.” *
Christiana Lilly is a freelance journalist in Pompano Beach, Florida. See more of her work spanning the arts, community news and social justice at christianalilly.com.