By Sandra Zunino
While many people would view a house fire and the felling of a century-old tree as a tragedy, the incidents sparked a new business venture for Bob and Kathie Kaye. Boka Gallery in Easton’s Amish Farmers’ Market, as the name suggests, is the culmination of Bob and Kathie’s talents.
When the Kaye’s house caught on fire in the mid 90s, an enormous red cedar stood in the way of reconstruction. “The tree was very large and was a safety hazard,” Bob explains, “so it had to come down.”
To honor the ancient tree, Bob had its wood milled into eight-foot long, half-inch thick planks. Using oils and acrylics, Bob was inspired to paint nature scenes intrinsic to the Eastern Shore on pieces of the rich cedar. While Bob had always pursued art and sketching as a hobby, he never relied on this natural talent for career purposes.
When an appraiser suggested Bob market his art; however, he and Kathie decided to open the gallery. Boka Gallery offers arts and crafts produced by both Kayes. While Bob creates paintings on canvas and slate pieces as well as cedar planks, Kathie sews unique fabric purses, book bags, pillows, baby accessories, wine carriers and even dog leashes.
During business hours, Kathie is often at her sewing machine in the gallery making her trademark bags. She will even produce custom pieces for customers using specific fabric chosen by the client for that one-of-a-kind piece. Recently she started a horse-themed backpack that will be a treasured gift to one customer’s granddaughter.
Boka Gallery has been in the Easton Amish Farmers’ Market just over a year, sharing the space with DS Woodcrafts, which features the craftsmanship of Don Schultz. D.S. Woodcrafts offers custom made writing instruments and accessories handmade from domestic wood including the famous Wye Oak, as well as from marble and other stone.
Before the market, Boka Gallery operated out of a shop in downtown Easton and another shop in St. Michaels. Bob and Kathie also exhibit at local arts and crafts shows such as the Nautical and Wildlife Art Festival in Ocean City, and the Concours d’ Elegance antique car show in St. Michaels.
In addition to paintings, Bob creates stained glass art and etched glass items such as wine glasses and tumblers, hurricane lamps and windows. Such picturesque places as Hooper’s Island, Turkey Point and Assateague form the inspiration for his designs.
“When I see something interesting, I think, that would be cool if I could do it in stained glass,” he says. “Forming a scene into something tangible is kind of neat.” Bob works from his own photographs. Depending on the piece, He will dedicate eight to 40 hours into the project before it is complete.
Like Kathie, Bob will also create commissioned art for clients such as names, initials or logos on a set of glasses or a special painting that may become a treasured family heirloom.
“On Route 404, there was a home that had been in a family for a century,” he says. Bob took several photos of the house and painted a picture of the house that would eventually be a presented as a wedding gift.
Boka Gallery is a part-time endeavor for the Kayes. Bob also works fulltime as a dispatcher for the Maryland State Police. For more information about Boka Gallery, or to see samples of the Kaye’s artwork, visit www.bokagallery.com.