Butterfield Gallery History
In 2024, Butterfield Garage Art Gallery turns 25! Established in February 1999, Butterfield Garage Art Gallery is the brainchild of artist Jan Miller. Her vision was to create an artist-run gallery for professional artists that would encourage creative experimentation.
Jan and Max Miller purchased the building at 137 King Street in 1998. Its first use was as a parking garage and "showplace" for cars. It was built in 1927, the same year as the Bridge of Lions. Located in the service corridor to the Old City, it served as both an auto repair shop and automobile sales showroom. Cars could be brought into the building and driven up a ramp to the second level for storage. An elevator eventually replaced the ramp.
The garage remained in operation until the early 1960s. After that it was used as a bus station, taxi stand, fastener (nuts & bolts) shop and a print shop. The upper level had an apartment for Flagler students that was off to one side while the other side accumulated storage. The new owners stumbled on a treasure when they discovered the Butterfield neon sign, dated 1929, under some debris. This relic appealed to Jan who took it to a sign company for restoration. It was in remarkably good condition and rehung under the portico in front. Jan's original vision to establish an art gallery for local, professional artists soon became a reality as BUTTERFIELD GARAGE Art Gallery.
Miller brought with her the experience of over 40 years as a successful professional artist. Having been a former member of ARC Cooperative in Chicago, Jan wanted to create a similar collective here in her new home. Jan remembers, “So many talents have come to St. Augustine over the years. Many are award winning artists from around the country. As a tranquil, mesmerizing attraction, St. Augustine has a history of appealing to artists.”
Her plan was to bring together the best artists in the area, who would share expenses, management, and operation of the gallery. She was affectionately dubbed “The Mama Cat” by the 12 artists who came together for their first meeting in late 1998. The gallery opened its doors in February 1999.
Twenty-five years of success have allowed the gallery to establish its reputation for highlighting the area's most distinguished professional artists, peers who are selected by a jury process and expected to exhibit their best work, as well as their experimental work and, once a year, their old work in the Annual Fine Art Garage Sale. Member artists share their process, contacts, and camaraderie. They offer a dynamic and diverse array of styles with regular changing exhibits. Many show their work in the St. Augustine Art Association, and outdoor art festivals, and answer calls for opportunities nationwide.
For 25 years now, the Butterfield Garage Art Gallery has provided its artists with the chance to grow and take advantage of opportunities that may come their way through exposure in a professional gallery. And we continue to this day, true to the gallery’s original mission: to be a leader in the presentation of traditional and contemporary visual arts in Northeast Florida, and to encourage the experience of direct accessibility and dialogue between artists and their customers.