Laguna Beach Gallery Owner Peter Blake Proves Inspiration Can Spark at Any Moment
Born and raised in New York, Peter Blake moved to Laguna Beach in the late 1980’s, and has called it home ever since. Planning to follow in his family’s restaurant industry footsteps, he landed a job at Roma Cucina, however soon realized that his creativity would need other outlets outside the food world.
Always a lover of a good celebration, Blake took to the Laguna streets after being promoted to general manager at the small Italian restaurant -- a night of partying that ultimately changed his life.
A few drinks deep and high on a little more than life, Blake walked passed a storefront that caught his eye. His imagination ran wild; he was immediately captivated by the way the store sat just feet from the sidewalk -- an artistic design that was both unique and architectural -- and he knew he had to own it.
No time was wasted. Within two days Blake was in contact with the building’s owner and set his ‘never-say-never’ attitude to opening an art gallery in the new space.
“Opening the gallery was a lot like giving birth,” explains Blake regarding the abundance of advice he was given. “Not until you have your own kid, is when you actually discover how to raise it.”
While continuing to work at Roma Cucina, Blake would regularly serve some of the most well-known artists in Laguna, which allowed him to spread the word of his soon-to-be art gallery. Opening a small business in a time where “how-to-open-a-gallery” wasn’t as Google-able, Blake had to rely on his own networking skills.
The Peter Blake Gallery opened in 1993, taking about five years to break even on his initial financial investment. Today, Blake views these years as a window of trust-building with artists and art collectors. A time where those who purchased a piece of art from the gallery had a chance to fall in love with it, making them feel comfortable in recommending the gallery to their friends and family.
“My job is to find art, promote artists’ work, find collectors who want to buy that art and make them feel that they’re getting value,” he explains.
Art is an experience of emotions for Blake, something he wants each and every visitor of the gallery to experience.
“I don’t use professional photographers anymore because they couldn’t get it right, they didn’t understand the angles. The images never gave me the feeling of what the gallery was trying to project,” admits the curator. “If you walk through the gallery, you can see my vision by the way I lay out all the artists’ work.”
The gallery now features local and international art, while progressing into a more minimalist space, featuring simple and delicate, yet aesthetically pleasing pieces.
The style of art is not the only aspect of the gallery that is rapidly evolving, however. Blake has continuously learned to adapt his business to ever-growing technology. While he has worked with a professional architect for over 20 years to perfect the gallery’s physical layout, he says his online presence is held to the same standards. He’s currently working on mastering a hybrid type of business where collectors can browse art pieces online, capture the aesthetic, and then visit the gallery in person.
At age 54, Blake has created a solid, creative, and ever-evolving career for himself, keeping his days busy and his schedule full… or maybe not busy enough. Peter Blake is a man who doesn’t believe in having too many hats to wear, as this last November he was sworn in to the Laguna Beach City Council.
Anna Guilford is a Journalism and Public Relations senior at California State University, Long Beach and contributing writer to Laguna Beach Living. She is a lover of modern art and shares Peter Blake’s “never-say-never” mindset. Reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or through her website at annalguilford.com
Photos by: Grant Puckett.