After a stretch in North Carolina, Pamela Grills Stein came home to South County to be with family. What she didn’t realize at the time was that she would also end up pursuing her dream of being a full-time artist. “I’d come up here in the summers to my family’s beach house in Misquamicut,” she says. “I’d take tons of photos, and I’d just paint.” Grills Gallery in Westerly is part studio space, part classroom for art enthusiasts, part gallery for emerging local artists, and all inspired by the natural wonders of South County.
Your path to being a full-time artist was long.
I started drawing when I was a kid. My mother had wanted me to pursue art school, but back in the ‘80s there wasn’t a clear avenue of what I could do from there. I moved back here when my parents became ill, and I wanted to start over and spend as much time with them as possible. Watching them in their final years, I learned that time waits for no one. Any dreams I may have had, it was time to do it and not be afraid. If I fail, I fail, but to me the only failure is not trying. I truly started painting, and people started to notice and buy my work.
How is your work inspired by South County?
My work is definitely from nature: I find inspiration in the beaches, the water, the trees. I find a great deal of peace in the movement of the water, and the strength of it is just immense. When I’m able to translate it into a stroke from a paintbrush onto my canvas, I can’t think of a better high
What’s your philosophy on making art accessible?
I want you to come into my gallery and studio and feel at home. You’re almost walking into a portion of my home, seeing some artwork and purchasing. Art is expensive. I want art to come off of the walls and be affordable for people. My original paintings are more expensive, but I also have postcards, water bottles, mugs, puzzles. I have things that are packable that you can take home to your family when you’re traveling.
What other artists do you showcase at Grills Gallery?
All my artists either have ties to Chariho High School, or live in Charlestown, Hopkinton, or Richmond. Sometimes the city folks get these big displays, but art happens here too. I have photography by Tim Fayer, woodwork by William Clark, and paintings by Eric Lutes, who starred on Caroline in the City. I have 12 pieces of his. He’s from Charlestown. His work is at other places as well. He and I went to school together, and we started collaborating when I started the gallery.
271 Post Road, Westerly • 637-7401