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Water Street pop-up gallery speaks to the coastal lifestyle

Water Street Gallery sells original art by John Olvey, Wade Koniakowsky and Jon Steele. Proceeds support the Texas Surf Museum. Courtesy photo
Carved and painted surfboards, tropical dreamscapes, vibrant beach scenes, photography of crashing ocean waves and more: Water Street Gallery tells the story of surfing in Corpus Christi and all of Texas.

Next door to the Texas Surf Museum, the tenants of Water Street Gallery are three nationally known artists: John Olvey, Wade Koniakowsky and Jon Steele.

While the gallery celebrated its grand opening in May, its lifespan is indefinite. Olvey describes it as a “pop-up” because they’re filling the space for a limited engagement with plans to close at the end of summer.

The idea for the gallery came from Brad Lomax, local restauranteur behind Executive Surf Club, Water Street Oyster Bar and Water Street Seafood Co. Lomax owns the entire block, known as Water Street Market. He contacted the artists — all of whom are his lifelong friends — about filling an empty space on the block.

“Water Street Gallery fits his business model,” Olvey said. “His intentions are to give the people who visit his restaurants an opportunity to have a high-quality gallery that is indicative of the surf lifestyle.”

While not every piece relates to surfing, it certainly relates to water — which Olvey thinks fits well with its Water Street location. The gallery maintains a friendly, casual vibe, never imposing or intimidating. Every piece of art is for sale — at affordable price points.

“We’ve got really good pricing because we’re not dealing with a typical gallery with a director,” he said. “They’ll justify high prices because of their overhead. We did not spend a whole lot on our buildout, so we’re not trying to cover any costs. We’re here to show and sell.”

Part of the arrangement is that a portion of the proceeds goes to the Texas Surf Museum. Olvey and the other artists have been advocates for the museum since its early days and are more than happy to support the nonprofit.

“People say ’Texas’ and people say ‘surf,’ and they don’t get it,” Olvey said. “We’re giving them an opportunity to realize that the sport’s been in this part of the world for 60 years. You get to see the whole history.”

Water Street Gallery is located at 309A N. Water St. in Corpus Christi. Follow the gallery on Facebook or call (361) 876-5429 for more information.

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