It’s January 25, 2022, and I’m sitting in my bed writing this. Yesterday was quite a day. I had a few sinus like symptoms so I went to Walgreens and had a COVID test. Turns out I am positive. So, I’m home to quarantine for the next five days or until I test negative. I’m so grateful I have been vaccinated and boosted. On the positive side, I am not experiencing major symptoms at this time. Hopefully my case remains mild.
Yesterday, we lost a treasure. Peter Lowes, passed away. If you didn’t know Pete, allow me to share some things about him in this blog. If you knew Pete, you loved him. Pete was one of the kindest and warmest souls. He knew how to make you feel special. Thus, I’m really going to miss him. I know I’m not alone.
Pete was the owner and founder of Vista Galleries with his wife Bonnie. My relationship with Vista Galleries www.vistagalleries.com began shortly after I moved to Clearwater, Florida. I was accepted into an exhibit called ‘I Love Clearwater’ with Menaul Art, (Now My Favorite Art Place) www.myfavoriteartplace.com. Here is a short interview with me from after the show, https://youtu.be/DfrOMZ-P9n8
Someone recommended Vista Galleries as the best place to have your art framed. Consequently, Vista became my go to framer. Even the years I lived in Tampa, I often drove across the Courtney Campbell Causeway to get my art framed there.
Every time I went to the warehouse, when Pete was present, he had a kind word to say and would carry my framed art to the car. I remember when I picked up my framed original painting, Whispers from the Vine, Pete said, “Wow, you really have something to say. I see a lot of art. You’ve really got something.” I also recall sharing that exchange with my Dad and telling him how caring and complimentary, Pete was. I always shared the important stuff with Dad.
Fast forward to February of 2021. I had taken a few months off after losing Dad and my best friend, Kellie four months apart in 2020. In October that year, when I returned from Kellie’s memorial service in Philadelphia, it became abundantly clear that I couldn’t continue working in the restaurant industry. Serving the public food and beverage had been my primary source of income for 30 years. However, it was time to leave that relentless cash cow. I left my job and took some time to grieve.
Following those months off of grief counseling and two cathartic courses with MamaGena www.mamgenas.com, it was time to find a new path and livelihood. Low and behold, after combing job listings and some uninspired interviews, I was compelled to look on craigslist. There was an ad for a position at Vista Galleries. A light flashed for me. I immediately wrote a cover letter and forwarded my resume. This felt right.
Pete called me to set a time for an interview and we chatted on the phone for quite some time as well. Fellow artist and friend, Kristen Santucci www.kristensantucci.com had already put in a good word with Pete about me. I met with Pete at Vista Galleries on a crisp February morning at 11am. Sitting in his office, across from those kind eyes, we were both masked, Pete wanted to hear my life story. I think I was in his office for two hours. It was the loveliest interview I ever had.
As a result, I was hired and have loved working at Vista Galleries. Working in my field and handling art on a daily basis has been a joy. In addition, I delight in learning new skills and the improvements in the industry since I worked at a framing shop in high school. Pete’s genuine kindness as a person and boss was a breath of fresh air after working under many not so nice bosses in the restaurant industry. Markedly, all of that, coupled with employee discounts, even made the large decrease in income from restaurant work worth my while.
The things Pete said and did, will ring in my mind… “Isn’t that something?!”, he would often exclaim. Once, he hugged me, with child like joy when I got his ‘frozen’ phone to work again. Almost daily, Pete said, “thank you for everything you do” to every one of us. He really took a personal interest in you. He would ask for details about something you shared with him a day or even week before. The man really listened. He recently told me and Kristen Santucci that we are just as good and talented artists as some of ‘those other guys’ making the big time out there and saying, “Come on Girls!” I replied, “I’m going for it, Pete!”
I hope I’ll make him proud.
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