The Bonner Collection - More Than You're Expecting
- story and photographs by Karen Fineran
Summer on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Perhaps you’ve been sitting outside recently, enjoying the fresh salt air, sipping a cold beverage, and watching the wheeling sea birds and the crabs and other sea creatures skedaddling about in the sand.
If you live here, then this is very probably why you live here. If you’re visiting, then it’s an experience that you will want to hold and treasure long after you return home.
If you’re looking for ways to capture the essence of the Gulf Coast and bring it indoors into your home, your first stop should be the Bonner Collection. As soon as you step inside the shop, you are surrounded by items that celebrate life on the Coast.
Arts Alive column
The Bonner Collection Art Gallery contains the studio of well-known artist Jim Bonner, and is the primary outlet for his watercolor paintings and prints. Owned by Bonner and his wife Patsy, it also contains an expansive retail space showcasing home décor, jewelry and gifts, and featuring the work of several other local artists.
The gallery was first opened in Pass Christian in 1996, moved to Old Town Bay St. Louis in 2003, moved to uptown New Orleans in 2006 after Hurricane Katrina, and in 2013 finally returned to its Gulf Coast home.
Originally from Meridian, Mississippi, Jim Bonner hails from the heyday of the advertising era in the ’70s in New Orleans. He’s the guy who designed the iconic Barq’s root beer can, the Crystal hot sauce pepper logo, and the original New Orleans Jazz NBA basketball team logo, among many others, some of which are available as prints at his studio.
Jim also accepts commissions, and is particularly talented at painting pet portraits that seem to perfectly capture the spirit and sensibilities of these quirky cats and dogs so beloved by their owners. He’s even painted Bay St. Louis’s own Lucy!
Jim’s wife Patsy manages the retail side of the operation, collecting and displaying unique coastal-style gifts, home decor, antiques, new and vintage jewelry, and fun beach fashion like colorful bags, hats and scarves. Alligators and herons adorn delicate boxes made of capiz seashells. Dinnerware, hand towels, lamps and pillows prominently feature crabs and other sea motifs.
Patsy says that the NOLA couture line that she carries is especially popular, with its neckties, dog collars, and key chains sporting alligators, cocktail glasses, fleur de lis, or red beans and rice. She also carries the original art pieces of a number of local clay artists, jewelers, and mixed media artists.
The Bonner Collection Art Gallery is conveniently located in the French Settlement building at 108 South Beach Boulevard, steps away from the Bay St. Louis Harbor. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Sunday and Monday afternoons “by chance.”
Many of Jim’s paintings, as well as some of their retail goods, can be viewed at their website at www.thebonnercollection.com.