There’s a buzz in the air, the word’s out: Carmen’s back and she's reinventing her beloved boutique craft gallery, ArtsiPhartsi, soon to be brimming with eclectic art, jewelry and handcrafted furniture.
Why now? Why the bold leap from retirement to retail?
For years, fine craft devotees, designers and artists nudged the entrepreneur.
Over and over, she heard: There was and is nothing like it in Tampa Bay.
Carmen especially missed the relationships, built over decades with individual artisans.
“I’m in awe of the brilliance of human creativity, what we are capable of crafting with our hands and imaginations, how ideas turn into treasures," she marvels.
The original ArtsiPhartsi opened in 1991, a dozen blocks north of the soon-to-open location, 4002 S. MacDill Avenue, in a quaint 100-year-old cottage.
Before long, ArtisPhartsi expanded into a much larger gallery on Kennedy Boulevard, not far from downtown Tampa, where it continued to flourish. Everyone loved the personal vibe and staff guiding them to the goodies. You could literally spend hours taking it all in.
Niche magazine and the American Craft Council took notice, awarding the shop for creative merchandising and retail trendsetting.
Since making the difficult decision to sell the thriving business in 2007, Carmen has maintained lifelong connections to the art world, even as her calendar filled with family, community and philanthropic involvement. Somehow she squeezed in art festivals often enough to be asked to judge several fine craft shows.
The buzz is palpable over ArtsiPhartsi, the country’s premier contemporary art and craft gallery.
For the seasoned world traveler, seeking out the best gallery/shop may seem like a relatively low gravity pursuit when compared with finding such things as restaurants, hotels, and museums. However, to find a little gem filled with treasures for those discerning folks seeking quality and uniqueness, it’s as important as sunshine, freedom, and the air we breathe. To me, a well curated gift is like an exquisite bouquet of flowers - except it lasts, in many cases, a lifetime. ArtsiPhartsi is a Tampa Treasure, established in 1991 and focuses on those unique things created by hand. Its founder and curator, Carmen Barkett, has returned to her passion after taking time out to travel, spend time with the family, and give to the community. ArtsiPhartsi, the beloved gem, is now open!