This beautiful slice of old Florida is lovingly called “The Mangrove Coast”. In fact, the Matlacha sand that I personally collected for Dune Jewelry’s artisans, was collected with a tea spoon, from between the roots of the “tree that walks” Our tiny island is less than a mile wide, surrounded by shallow estuary, which means every sort of sea life comes here to procreate. Dolphins, manatees, fishes, eagles, every type of heron, countless pelicans and ospreys abound in the waters that surround us. It feels magical, perhaps because so much life really is created here.
We are the keepers of the bridge that is the only road on and off Pine Island. We are the tiny casting off point to the barrier islands to the west: Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, North Captiva Island, Cayo Costa (in Spanish, “Coastal Island”), two of which are accessible only by water, or air. The beaches of these coastal islands are like precious jewels. Each ten yard stretch of an island holds somebody’s heart, a personal bit of memory buried in the sand.
Here at Bert’s Pine Bay Gallery, we treasure our tiny bits of sand, and send them proudly to our artisan friends at Dune Jewelry. Our customers help us, by bringing in sand from their personal piece of island.
Bert’s Gallery was born 13 years ago, when Bernard Johnson needed parking for his sea food restaurant and bar, “Bert’s”. Given the opportunity to create a gallery in the 80 year-old pine board cottage, I threw my soul into the venture. Local artists were excited to show their work. I had been groomed for this opportunity by earlier mentors back in Michigan, who took me under their wings. I was meant for this, to make this gallery and shop a warm, welcoming home to visitors and islanders alike. Other local islanders bring their unique flavor to the shop. Nancy, Bonnie, Marcia, Linda, Jacque, who work with me, each add something special to the Bert’s Pine Bay Gallery and Gifts.
When the artisans of Dune Jewelry picked us to represent their new line of sand jewelry three years ago, there was no hesitation. Each piece of Dune Jewelry represents someone’s precious memory, some tiny bit of someone’s heart, buried in that sand.
Bert’s Pine Bay Gallery
Manager, Deboriah Dale Cole