Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Dean and David Nelson collaborate well at Seascape Designs, their art gallery and studio in Ocean Isle Beach.
For as long as Dean Nelson can remember she’s been involved with artwork. Born in the South but growing up in Massapequa, Long Island, Dean remembers in the 1960s how often her mother, a commercial artist, would create pieces and give art classes to people in the basement of their house.
“People came from all over the neighborhood to learn from my mother because she loved her work and she had a great way of explaining what she did,” Dean says. “A skilled artisan, she painstakingly did all the work by hand.”
Dean says as a girl she loved doing the mosaics, and her mother would help with the grout and clean up the piece.
“Artwork has always been a part of my life and no matter where I’ve been I’ve always yearned to do creative work,” Dean says.
With a B.S. in Leisure Services/Commercial Recreation from Florida State University, Dean worked full-time as a spa director in California. She met her husband, David Nelson, a lifelong North Carolinian, in Asheville through friends and married in 2010. Moving to Brunswick County in 2012, they thought about how great it would be to open their own art gallery and studio.
“It was a dream we both had in the back of our minds, and when we started putting pen to paper, we realized that maybe our dream could become reality,” Dean says.
Initially they sold their art at local markets and festivals, and they slowly grew into the gallery they have today. In 2019 they opened their gallery at Seaside Road SW in Ocean Isle Beach. When a larger space became available in January 2022, they moved to their current location at 6649 Beach Drive in Ocean Isle Beach and now have 4,000 square feet of space.
Featuring regional artists in their shop is a priority, and their customers appreciate the custom, one-of-a-kind pieces they display.
“At Seascape Designs no two weeks are alike in that we are always out curating, creating and bringing in new works of art,” Dean says. “We have an eclectic mix of nautical-inspired home decor items, jewelry, pottery and more.
Half for the space is for the art gallery and half is for classes.
“This is exactly what I envisioned when I dreamed of opening a creative, artsy shop — having a bright and airy space with plenty of room for customers to participate in any of our various classes,” Dean says. “People really like taking art classes. It’s a great hobby for seniors and for people of all ages. We set things up, we provide all of the supplies needed, we do the cleanup, and customers get to take home the pieces they’ve made whether it’s glass fish, a mosaic stone, painting or Christmas ornaments.”
Dean says she is happiest teaching the metal art class, the glass class, the lazy Susan class and mosaic art. The Whimsical Fused Fish class is a big hit. They’re made out of fusible glass, are put in the kiln and the next day they’re magnificent, glistening pieces of art.
Holly Clark-Dull teaches the paintings classes — acrylic, water-based and poured paint. She leads textile inspired and mixed-media classes as well.
“When Holly heard we’d opened up six years ago she dropped off a small picture with a note attached saying she was an artist and was interested in teaching some art classes,” Dean says. “I was so impressed with her clever artwork that we brought her on board. Holly has added a different element to the many classes we offer at Seascape Designs.”
The studio averages 70 to 90 students a month or more than 2,500 people in the three years that they’ve been open. Participation varies depending on the season.
“People come from all over to take a class,” David says. “They drive here from Hampstead and we even get vacationers from Florida.”
David enjoys finding and restoring vintage windows, stripping them of the lead paint and restoring them to their former beauty.
Dean says its teamwork that makes their gallery and studio run.
“David is the glue to making the shop run while I’m busy in the back creating new works of magic,” Dean says. “Whether it’s in the art gallery or in the studio, teamwork is what makes it happen for our customers.”
Open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm