By Marc Gave | New Pelican Writer
If you’ve never set foot in Stork’s Bakery & Coffee House in Wilton Manors, you may not realize that in addition to serving up delicious drinks, baked goods, sandwiches, soups, and salads, it offers an array of work by local artists that changes monthly
The curator in charge is photographer Ken Harrison, who got his start at Stork’s in January 2020, when owner Peter Dekaj approached him about exhibiting his own photos on the eatery’s walls. The stipulation was that he’d have to change it out every month or so. But that was just before the start of the COVID pandemic, so his work stayed there for two months.
At the end of that period, Harrison suggested that he bring in other artists, which sat well with Dekaj, as long as Harrison would take full responsibility. Since then, he’s invited a new artist to show every month and the location is now booked almost through the end of 2024.
“Some of the artists have never shown their work before,” Harrison said. “I could have kept these walls all to myself, but it just didn’t seem right. Why not help out other artists?” This past month, however, Harrison made a reappearance with recent photos.
Originally from southeast London, Harrison has been in South Florida for “thirty-odd years.” Harrison started taking pictures when he was very young. His dad had done black-and-white photography, and he took over the darkroom and began experimenting with color photography as well. He has now shown more of his work here than he ever did in England.
Harrison hadn’t intended to stay in the U.S. After he sold his business in England, his original plan was to tour the world. “A carpenter by trade, I got to working in marinas here. Then I went into home remodeling. My tour plans never materialized.”
Harrison did a photo shoot for a friend, who encouraged him to show his work. He entered one of his pictures at a gallery and won honorable mention. Then he joined Broward Art Guild and won some ribbons. At one of its annual meetings, he suggested a couple of ideas for fundraisers and the next thing he knew, he was asked to join the board.
Shortly afterward, the president was stepping down and he was elected the new president for two years that somehow turned into six. At that time, the Guild didn’t have its own gallery. So, he made a priority of setting it up in its own space, located on Northeast 32 Street in Fort Lauderdale. He has continued to fundraise until recently, spearheading its Quick Draw plein air competition.
With his own photography, Harrison is “very into wildlife, architecture, and landscapes. A lot with flowers. For the last year, every photo I take seems to have bees in it, so I’ve become the bee man.” He sensitively captures scenes that people might see every day and pass by without a thought.
With the artwork for Stork’s, he selects works he thinks will interest people, while striving for a mix of genres and engaging local artists who are not necessarily promoting themselves.
Dekaj doesn’t take a commission from artwork sales. Harrison prepares wall tags and a bio, asking only ten dollars for the service. If artists sell, it is up to them whether they give him a percentage.
In addition, there is the opportunity for exhibitors to hold a meet-and-greet during their month. For that, they can bring more of their work to exhibit on racks or easels or in a bin.
Harrison’s work will be on display at Storks, 2505 NE 15 Ave., until Feb. 5. Visit kenharrisonphotography.com to see some of his work.
💜 well deserved Ken. I appreciated the opportunity myself a year ago. Thank you Marc for recognizing this community achievement.