By: Paul Houston

Art on 19th Street is meant to get people down to Ybor City during the day to support local business so says Nataly Balk, facilitator of Art on 19th St. and co-owner of Singing Stone Gallery. Every first Saturday of the month Singing Stone opens its doors to customers and showcases the works of local artists and craftsmen.

The Singing Stone Gallery is actually a renovated house turned into an art gallery and shop. The core of the shop is for showcasing the handmade jewelry of craftsman, Dan Balk. On the walls space is rented to local artists to show off their work. What Nataly and Dan Balk try to do with their little space every first Saturday is to bring people in to take a look at local art and help enliven the local scene.

Art on 19th Street is a small event right now, having just celebrated it’s nine month anniversary, but it’s an event with a lot of potential. Upon first arriving at the Singing Stone Gallery we were greeted by a musician and and artist at work situated on the front porch of the gallery. Inside you'll be submerged in a plethora of eye catching work by a variety of local artists.

A majority of the main floor is taken up by Dan Balk’s hand crafted jewelry which is created from raw materials and features a very unique craftsmanship that I personally found very appealing. Dan’s style is artsy and modern, yet classic all the same. Dan accepts custom orders on a commission style basis. You bring in your design and Dan works with you to make it happen. Working from the raw materials allows him to do this. I haven’t heard of too many jewelry stores doing this, plus with a lifetime maintenance agreement tacked on, I can’t imagine a better deal in the whole city.

Possibly the most eye catching of all the jewelry at Singing Stone were the pendants and necklaces made with Mokume-gane metal. This metal is rarely made into jewelry, because of the odd patterns that occur in the working process leaving each piece of the jewelry with an almost blurry honeycomb pattern etched into it. I found it rather beautiful and I was told it is some of the most popular jewelry sold at Singing Stone.

I’ll be honest, I was expecting a little more with the Art on 19th Street event, but you can’t give people bad marks for being ambitious. I honestly did like every thing I saw in the gallery and if I had enough money, I would have taken home plenty of the pieces on display. I do feel good that the local art scene is a talented bunch. Maybe Art on 19th Street will make us all feel differently after awhile. If it was up to Nataly Balk, it would happen immediately. She’s pushing hard to make this happen and I wish her much luck, I had a nice time talking to her about it.

The next Art on 19th Street is November 5th and will feature more local artists, a live musician and an artist at work; probably more, but you will have to be there to find out.