Colby Katz

Owners Aaron and Monica Maxwell of Harmony Isle Gallery must be doing something right: Seven years after they opened their little shop in Fort Lauderdale's Gateway shopping district, business is still thriving. Harmony Isle is doing so well, in fact, that the couple just opened a second location, Harmony Ridge, in Lewisburg, West Virginia. The Maxwells beat the odds against galleries in a fickle market by focusing on works that reject the traditional distinction between fine art and crafts as art. Most of their stock is functional as well as beautiful, and it's all handmade. Among the most striking items in Harmony Isle's current inventory are lamps by the Hialeah-based team of Nicolas Trujillo and Teresa Costa, who work with hand-blown glass, forged iron and brass, silk, linen, and handmade paper to create pieces that suggest three-dimensional collages. Also impressive: individual tiles by Michael Cohen, who cuts them from stoneware clay, presses designs such as animals into them, and highlights them with molten glass. The panels, which are about six inches square, could be used to cover one or more entire walls, but they'd have greater impact used more sparingly, as accent pieces. The Maxwells continue to do a brisk business in the acrylics of Maria Reyes Jones, an Orlando-based painter whose specialty is palm trees of various sorts set against vividly colored backgrounds. And they've added a line of nonutilitarian wall sculptures by Paul William Sumner, who carves long, slender fish from wood, then paints them and adds metal fins. But the gallery is still at its strongest showcasing art that seamlessly marries form and function -- the ceramics of Robin Rodgers, for example, who uses complex, ancient American Indian pottery-making techniques and such exotic ingredients as horsehair and bird feathers for his exquisitely detailed pieces. (Harmony Isle Gallery, 902 NE 19th Ave., Fort Lauderdale, 954-527-2880.) -- Michael Mills

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