Bees in the Hive | Loving Water with Margaret Juul
by DANIEL VEINTIMILLA
After talking with Sebastian Coolidge about water quality it was interesting to find out that Margaret Juul used to work on accounting for an environmental company that dealt with water and government contracts. The guy that owned the company developed the machine that separates oil and water, at the time such technology was being used on the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska. Juul had to sign a confidentiality agreement in the early ’90s as she found out about alleged high levels of toxicity across America. This discovery led to activism and an interest in the actual characteristics of water, scientifically and aesthetically.
Her work clearly shows her formal training in Chicago. Perfectly capable of painting realistic portraiture, she remembers holding a brush, one of her earliest memories as a child.
After this period Juul started working in the publishing world as a salesman. She said she remembers the grand opening of Macaroni Grill in Tampa, which most of the writers and creatives of the organization attended. Juul got invited too. She sat at the designers’ table for the first time, and fell in love with that feeling from a painter’s perspective, and decided to go back to school, worked hard for a while and then she got her state license as a professional Interior designer.
She got her break while pre-licensed at high-end Ethan Allen (the only stores left around here are in Citrus Park Mall and in Brandon). Juul worked there for more than four years, taking care of both store merchandising and residential design. Then, after she got licensed she started working for a woman who specialized in health care design, nursing homes, hospitals, etc. But the operation did not last long and seem to have been mismanaged; one day Juul arrived to work and the doors were closed without any forewarning.
Good news arrived soon, when she got a job at now Wendover Art Group, a local manufacturer of wall decor serving retail, interior design, hospitality and healthcare customers. She was able to help in the development of their catalog, and Juul became a recruiter and an art consultant, finding new artists that match that Wendover look. Also, she got to travel around the country to meet different retailers and try to meet their sophisticated needs.
On one occasion, her clients were looking for high-end coastal art, which inspired her to develop her unique liquid painting style and painting portfolio. This practice eventually clicked with businesses collectors and galleries nationwide and beyond, and the rest is history — she stuck with that magical water motif.
Sometimes her asymmetrical art feels like you are seeing inside a greenish wave. Juul confessed her love for close-up images, which she developed as a buyer and interior designer. This style of painting, like moments of water frozen in time, did not come by accident; it was carefully developed — a pointillist style decades in the making. The oils look very immersive and full of vitality and movement.
Juul later worked at former Trinity Gallery for three plus years, located where Red Cloud Indian Arts currently resides. We discussed how difficult it is to keep up with gallery space. She even attempted to sell beautiful antique art and maintain a studio space at the Warehouse Art District.
“I would say that 99 percent of our clients were from out-of-state,” Juul said, while agreeing on how complicated it is to sell art locally with or without representation.
“It seems that most of the real money is made from October to February, maybe March around here,” she adds. “And once you do have the representation and galleries are showing your work, it’s another challenge to keep the sales up. Also, the pressure from the local auction houses selling valuable art at a lower price, which will normally retain its value, makes it even more complex.”
So, Juul experienced firsthand that most local collectors buy their art at the auction houses in Pinellas, hence they tend not to invest in the saturated local art market.
“We are not there yet where people are spending the high dollar; it’s just not there yet — it’s coming!” she said.
All photos below by Daniel Veintimilla