The Gallery at Flat Rock Creates the Art of Conversation

Suzanne Camarata | The Gallery at Flat Rock

When Suzanne Camarata moved from Boston, Massachusetts, to Western North Carolina in 2010, she was in search of a place to not only get away from big city life, but to also find balance in her work.

“It’s the mountains here that I like the most,” Camarata said. “I was raised in Japan. I grew up in the mountains there, and this area reminds me of that place, with its four seasons and sense of community.”

Initially, Camarata, who was a freelance photographer in New England, came to Henderson County to, perhaps, create her own art or photo studio. She had planned on doing pet portraits, all in an effort to try to expand her talents throughout the region.

But, as the studio began to take form, Camarata started to incorporate the works of other local artists to fill the vast walls and floor of the building. By 2015, The Gallery at Flat Rock had opened its doors to local artisans and collectors.

“Soon, it just morphed into wanting to do a gallery more than anything else because there’s so much talent around here. It was really natural to find wonderful artists to display,” Camarata said. “I’m always looking for artists with their own unique sense of style. At this point, we showcase a really eclectic mix of mediums and styles, with everyone sharing a mutual sentiment of love for this area we all live in.”

Whenever a customer enters the gallery—either in search of something special or simply to wander around the displays—Camarata revels in that singular moment of discovery felt by an onlooker in the presence of artistic beauty.

“It’s in that moment that I know I’m doing things right, that this is what I’m supposed to be doing,” Camarata said. “It’s also a chance to share with them the background of the artist and the inspiration behind their work—this ongoing conversation between myself, the customer, and the artist.”

Never once losing her appetite and drive to create, Camarata still pursues photography. During the 2020 shutdown, with community members practicing social distancing, she began doing “porch portraits,” going from house to house and snapping an image of a person or family, as a gesture of solidarity and camaraderie amid uncertain, confusing times.

“I felt like I should help out where I was needed, so I gave a portion of each portrait sold to the Flat Rock Playhouse, which was closed for a period during the shutdown,” Camarata said. “It was a way for me to give back to this community that has given so much to me, as a gallery owner and as a resident.”

Aside from the represented works, The Gallery at Flat Rock also plays host to several events throughout the year in an effort to bring the community together through art, food, and live music.

“We’re always trying to engage the public in all kinds of different ways,” Camarata said. “And this is because I believe that the more you engage people with the gallery, the more they take ownership of it being their gallery. You’re growing your vision, and you want to bring people into that vision. It’s not just my gallery, it’s this area’s gallery, too.”

This post is adapted from our annual Welcome to Western North Carolina magazine. Click here to read more online, or click here to request your free copy.

End of blog post Beverly-Hanks logo


Back to News

Leave a Reply