Nepenthe: A Place of No Sorrow
By Lani Gering
We always love it when we are introduced to new businesses that we wouldn’t ordinarily seek out either because the location isn’t along a beaten path or doesn’t sell a ware that we normally seek out. Nepenthe Gallery is just such a place. Located off of Fort Hunt Road in the Hollin Hall area of Alexandria, Nepenthe sits behind the popular Hollin Hall Pastry Shop adjacent to where the iconic Variety Store is located.
The way we ended up at Nepenthe was literally kismet. A former co-worker of mine from almost 40 years ago and I reconnected last fall and have kept in touch since. Her husband is an artist whose work was being featured at Nepenthe last month and he invited us to his reception. Unknowingly, a member of the Nepenthe staff had contacted us about possible advertising as well. When we arrived at the Gallery for the reception, all of the dots connected.
After meeting proprietors Carrie and Jim Garland and members of their staff at said reception, we decided we needed to let our readership know about this amazing place. They opened their doors in March of last year and have been evolving ever since. Carrie was quick to tell me that their success is a result of the people they have surrounded themselves with. In addition to Carrie and Jim, Nepenthe currently has four very capable women with talents in varied areas that contribute to the day-to-day operation of the gallery.
The Gallery is also very proud to house the home studio for renowned photographer Renee C. Gage. I met Renee while visiting the gallery to interview Carrie. She is, indeed, an amazing photographer but also a fun person to talk to.
While Nepenthe has much in common with most art galleries – featuring works by local artists they know personally as well as many from the DMV and around the USA, hosting artists receptions, etc. – the have works from Carrie’s family’s private collection of 19th century and early 20th century American art masterpieces. They offer gallery talks about the pieces led by Carrie’s mother.
The Gallery itself is very inviting and not overwhelming. The selection of art ranges from familiar prints and fun neon images to originals in several mediums and sizes and sculptures and mobiles in a range of sizes. I admit that I am quite taken with one of the large mobiles on display now but, number one, I don’t have anywhere to hang it and number two, dusting it would be a chore! I know there is a home out there for it though!
What was originally going to be a “Pop Up” location for a short time in Old Town, Nepenthe has partnered with Lisa Katic at Wine Gallery 108 located at 108 N. St. Asaph. This has proven to be an excellent move for both parties. Nepenthe gives their artists another location for exposure as well as promoting the wine side of Wine Gallery 108. As an aside, if you are a Madonna fan, you really need to check out the mixed media piece of her by Romero Britto on display here.
Last but not least…Nepenthe has an onsite custom framer below the gallery. This is where Jim Garland uses his artistic eye. If you have the pleasure to meet him, take note of his quick wit.
Let’s circle back to the beginning. “Nepenthe” is a magic word for Carrie, Jim and their family. It is the name of a fabulous restaurant in Big Sur where her parents visited in the 1960’s, it was the mantra (retreat and calm down) when planning Carrie and Jim’s wedding in the 1990’s and her father named his boat Nepenthe (no whining or crying while on deck). Do you see a pattern here? When you visit the gallery, you will feel the vibe. It is sort of another take on “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”!
7918 Fort Hunt Road