"My passion is art and I want to help the cultural arts grow in this town as well as support the wonderful local artists," said Keri Davis, owner of Pacesetter Gallery in Flowood.
Keri has been passionate about art since she was just a little girl. Growing up in rural Uvalde, Texas, she was exposed to unique and beautiful artwork in her own grandmother's art gallery. This gallery was a beacon of light in a very small town that was primarily cattle ranches. Keri recalled, "There was nothing around but acres and acres of ranches. Her gallery became known as the place to get fine art." Watching her grandmother's devotion to supporting local talent and giving their community access to some of the greatest painters in Texas, Keri developed a love for arts that has continuously grown over the years.
Keri sadly shared, "My grandmother passed away last year at age 96 but she was my idol and my mentor. I remember growing up in the gallery being around these beautiful works of art. She taught me so much I began taking lessons myself in my youth."
Her passion led her to the University of Texas for art studies. She continued to pursue her dream, became a teacher, and began creating amazing murals among other works around her town.
Life brought her to Rankin County in 2012 with her husband, Jason, and their blended family where she took a step back and changed gears from the career path she had been pursuing. Taking on a predominantly male oriented position in building supplies, she worked for Lansing Building Products in Pearl for many years. Lansing is the country's largest supplier of building products. There, she learned valuable business skills and her hard work and dedication landed her the prestigious opportunity to become one of six females to run a division of the company.
Although she enjoyed her career immensely, art was still at the forefront of her life and passion.
Keri said, "During Covid, I really started to think and ask myself, 'Is what you are doing your true calling?' I only get one shot in this life, and I really began to stop and realize my dreams of wanting to collaborate with other artists."
This realization was a light bulb moment that set her on a new and exciting path. She opened her very own art gallery in Flowood this summer. Keri paid homage to her late grandmother by naming her gallery by the same name as the gallery she adored and grew up in, Pacesetter Gallery.
Keri added, "I am a third-generation woman-owned business. My mother and grandmother knew their calling and went fearlessly out on their own. I saw this day to day. Having a background of strong women, I have never once had a thought that I couldn't do it as well."
Her passion has now opened the doors to new cultural experiences to the area. Keri has a soft spot for exposing the youth to all types of art, music, and culture. She said, "I want the kids to be able to experience creative artists and get inspired. I want them to have an outlet. We have had some tough times [living through a pandemic] and really need some positive things. There is so much of that to be experienced through music and the arts."
Pacesetter Gallery is home to 43 Mississippi artists including her husband, Jason. The gallery offers several collections including enamel artists, ceramic artists, mixed media, candles and floral. Keri said, "The store has surpassed all of my expectations."
Keri wants the gallery to be a true gathering place for the community. She has hosted wine and cheese tastings and had events with live musicians. She plans to host many more events for the public to enjoy and get a glimpse of the talent in our area. She will host sidewalk paintings where locals can watch an artist paint live while sitting on the sidewalk outside of the gallery. Many people do not get to experience this up close and personal glimpse into creating a unique and one-of-a-kind piece. She is eager to open her doors to those in the community and use it for all sorts of events.
Keri and her family enjoy the many things Flowood has to offers, and she hopes to give back with her gallery. When not creating art, running the gallery, or enjoying time with her family, you can find Keri singing with another one of her mentors, fellow artist, art gallery owner, and musician, Richard McKee. They enjoy playing local clubs and coffeehouses together.
She concluded, "It has been a blessing to partner with other artists and be able to offer the arts to this area."