Local artist never stopped dreaming of Bay Street gallery

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Mary Thibault knows how to turn a vision into reality. As a self-taught artist, Mary starts with a passion for the work and, literally, a prayer, and, as she says, “Then the paintings flow.”

And even before Thibault Gallery, the Bay Street space where Mary shows her own and other artist’s work, was a reality, she was committed to the idea of it.

“I named my business Thibault Gallery long before I actually had a physical gallery,” Mary says. “I had our website so customers could order art through there. I always kept the idea of owning our gallery alive through journaling, too.”

The Beaufort native spent 15 years in the classroom as a special education and art teacher. She also painted props and scenery for her daughters’ dance performances and murals for Beaufort High School. But art was an after hours endeavor for many years.

“I painted at night after my full-time classroom job,” Mary says. “My husband Eric and I did art shows on the weekends.” Time spent showing her artwork at Green Fish Gallery and in a studio space at Atelier on the Bay only reinforced Mary’s desire to own her own gallery on Bay Street. When the Bay Street Outfitters building became available in January 2014, Thibault Gallery found its home.

According to Mary, “I’m blessed to be able to follow my passion and paint full time. Being a gallery owner means I’m in charge of production and customer service. Eric is CFO, the head custodian and shipping clerk. We’re the only employees of the gallery, so it’s a good thing we each get along with our co-worker!”

In addition to Mary’s own work, Thibault Gallery features what she calls the cream-of-the-crop of the Beaufort art community. The welcoming space is filled with her own work as well as the work of 14 other artists who share Mary’s positive spirit. Since opening, the gallery has received a total of three Best Art Gallery awards from Best of Beaufort and Beaufort Gazette Readers Choice.

PROFILE - MARY FISHMary and Eric’s blended family includes seven children (including two Megans!) aged 14 to 30. Family holds great importance for Mary, so even though there isn’t a time when she wouldn’t rather have a brush in hand, she recently agreed to go fishing with Eric and daughter Erin and son-in-law Bryon. Mary had the biggest catch of the day and the achievement was memorialized with a photo.

In addition to growing Thibault Gallery, Mary and Eric want to help develop First Friday After Five, where downtown Beaufort galleries and businesses extend their hours to 8 p.m. on the first Friday of each month. The event features musicians who play near the Bay Street clock and Thibault Gallery serves wine and hors d’oeuvres and customers can meet the artists. Eventually, Mary would like to see Bay Street closed for this “Night on the town” event.

“It never hurts to dream,” she says.