Creative faces in business – Robert Howell

Home is where the art is

By Ellen Linnemann

When looking to move South from the Northeast, Robert Howell knew that the Lowcountry had it all – and, in particular, could match the wildlife that he and his wife had up north living on the Croton River, an estuary of the Hudson River, 45 minutes outside of New York City.

In looking for an environmental ecosystem that included bald eagles, osprey, owls, hawk, deer, fox, river otter, beaver, coyotes, and an abundance of birds, Howell was excited to discover that not only did the Lowcountry offer all that but also dolphins, sea turtles and gators. He knew that they were “home” and had found the perfect location to open their gallery celebrating both art and nature, right in the heart of the Lowcountry.

As the founder and owner of the Mystic Osprey Gallery, Howell and his wife, Emily, created this unique space in the Habersham Marketplace in Beaufort as an extension of their love of nature, wildlife and the earth’s habitat. They are thrilled to have so many fine artists from throughout our country choose to showcase their one-of-a-kind work here in the Lowcountry and share their vision in celebrating nature through art. The artists and the art they choose for Mystic Osprey Gallery are tightly focused on bringing the outdoors and its wildlife into your home in a way that, as Howell points out, “elevates your decor without breaking the bank.” The gallery showcases fine artists who explore “Nature, Habitat and Our Place Within.” 

“Our artists are invested in protecting the planet and its wildlife like we are,” Howell said. ”Most all of our artists are in museums, private collections and world-class galleries. We have a strong showing of Lowcountry and Southeastern artists, but we also show artists from other states.”

Once deciding on the perfect location here in the Lowcountry, Howell and his wife knew they needed the perfect name for their gallery to highlight their love of nature and wildlife and tell their own personal story. They decided on the Mystic Osprey – reflecting the fact that everywhere they have lived, they always had an osprey nesting in close proximity. (It’s supposed to be good luck to have a nesting pair nearby.) According to some Native American folklore, seeing an osprey in a dream or vision was a sign that a man had been granted spiritual power as a healer. Noting that “it’s our job as earth’s caretakers to help heal this planet and reduce our impact for our grandchildren’s generation and beyond,” Mystic Osprey was born – with its mission twofold: Beautiful art and environmental appreciation.

14 x 24″ oil on linen by Dianne Munkittrick,
available through Mystic Osprey Fine Art Gallery.

Another feature of Mystic Osprey that has proved to be especially beneficial to running a growing business (particularly during a pandemic) is the fact that the Howells live right above the gallery.

“Living upstairs, we’re able to arrange private appointments for small groups and have safe, social distancing,” Howell notes. “Many couples and foursomes on their way to dinner at one of Habersham’s restaurants arrange appointments ahead of their dinner reservations. We also provide broadcast-quality viewings on Facetime or Zoom. You’re inside the gallery, you can ask questions of the gallerist, and the viewing experience that my guests can see digitally from their own homes is stunning.”

Combining his love of nature with his love of art, Howell says that it’s truly a dream to be surrounded by earth and wildlife-affirming art, and to put beautiful, collectible art in people’s homes while also promoting environmental and education-based charities that teach our children about our precious earth and its wildlife. Thrilled for the privilege of introducing Mystic Osprey’s artists to the Lowcountry, Howell is excited to continue to showcase fine artists from throughout the country as he celebrates nature, wildlife, art – and, of course, the mystic osprey, through this unique gallery. Learn more at www.mysticosprey.com.

Three Takeaways

1. The artists and the gallery both bring something to the table. So, the question for me is, “How can I help Osprey’s artists get their art out into the world, into someone’s home, to be appreciated?” 

2. Everyone in brick-and-mortar retail, including galleries, needs to be more creative in their thinking to get people in the door. This was even true pre-Covid. Art is best sold with our clients falling in love with the painting right in front of them. Tactile. Sure, we promote our artists online via all channels, but you’ll appreciate the artist’s talent more seeing the work, the brushstrokes, the composition, in person – and that’s when people fall in love.”

3. “Mystic Osprey is very deliberate in offering collectible, investment-quality art created by artists who believe in the preservation of our planet as much as we do — and those are the clients and buyers we seek, and thankfully the ones we attract.”

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