A new Cambria art gallery has ties to a retailer familiar to many North Coast residents

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Monarch Gallery owner Natalie Marks, Leslie Marks`s daughter. In 2009, she sold the popular Cambria Froggies children’s store.

Now the two women are collaborating at Monarch Gallery Cambria. Natalie Marks works with artists and does business, while Leslie Marks mentors and helps. Monarch Gallery opened in May at 755 Main St., Unit B, between Caren’s Corner and Cambria Coffee Roasting Co., across the block from Froggies, now owned by Norma Casas.

Monarch Gallery’s current range includes hats, scarves, blankets, jewelry, ceramics, wall art, handmade postcards, and local stones.

Cambria art gallery is in the same tiny space that once housed the gallery of Gail Sewell’s diseased cells. Leslie Marks has told Sewell over the years that this is “the best place in Cumbria,” her daughter said.

The idea for the Monarch Gallery Cambria came from a conversation between two women Marks and the homeowner, Tom Beale, “who used to sell me ice cream at Caren’s Corner as a kid,” Natalie Marks said with a laugh.

The gallery space has just been vacated.

Beale and Leslie Marks “kept looking at me and sounding like I should open a gallery there,” the young woman said. “I just sat there and listened and thought, ‘This is a little absurd,’ but it actually sounded a bit like what I would do.”

Looking back at “all the craft shows we did when I was a kid, all the business classes I attended in college, all the people I know here who owned or own businesses now,” mused Natalie Marks. “I thought I could bring all these people together for ideas, get local input.”

Daughter and mother Natalie and Leslie Marks have created a new joint venture: the Monarch Gallery in Cambria. The latter, who is holding their pet, Tiny, is perhaps best known in the area for the children’s shop she launched and owned for years, Froggies

Initially, she thought Sewell had simply retired, but regretted to learn that the longtime owner of the gallery had passed away after a long illness.

Marx first decided to open a cooperative gallery here to help the artists Sewell had represented over the years. But Sewell was such an attentive and caring person that “before she closed her store, she made sure that all of her artists went to other local galleries,” Marx said.

So the 23-year-old entrepreneur and her mom were brainstorming again. They decided to show the work of “local artists from the Central Coast and some others by invitation only,” recalls Natalie Marks. There are about 20 artists from Cumbria.

One of the artists whose work is featured in the Monarch Gallery Cambria is Cass Fleig of Atascadero. The sale of Flague’s Heart of the Earth rock carvings is helping raise funds for local residents in need of financial assistance in medical situations, including the late Earl of Moon, Michael Miller, and Seneca Jacobson, Marks said.

Cass Flag is the creator of the Heart of the Earth rock carvings. Since 2018, she has been using her art to support local people with serious illnesses.

Monarch Gallery Cambria guests include two exhibiting artists from Ventura, who come here every two weekends or so. “Cambria art gallery is really filling up nicely,” Marx said proudly. “It’s really all about this space and the atmosphere that Gail left here.”

Monarch Gallery Cambria is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

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