It was a chance encounter that led Carole Shields to Eye’s Gallery in 1996. “I was walking up Bainbridge Street and saw Isaiah Zagar tiling the Ed Mattio Plumber wall,” Carole says. “I had never met him before but was a big fan of his work. I stopped to talk and he told me that Eye’s Gallery was looking for a buyer. At the time I was working as a showroom rep for several menswear lines. I realized that I really missed women’s wear and daily interaction with my clients. I immediately fell in love with Eye’s Gallery and the artistic vision of Julia Zagar. My only concern was how am I going to dust all of this stuff?!”
With her background in buying and management for such South Street boutiques as Mooshka and Xog, as well as the craft jewelry gallery, Dandelion, Eye’s seemed a perfect fit. Since then Carole has brought some of her passion for fashion to Eye’s by expanding the clothing selection and bringing in some edgier jewelry lines to suit the tastes of the ever- changing South St. clientele. She follows a personal philosophy which she likes to call “enhanced customer service,” and anyone who has been one of her customers knows exactly what this means.
“The fashion business is like theater,” Carole says. “Everyday must be fresh and exciting. You need to bring your enthusiasm for fashion to the customer. If I’m able to make someone happy, it makes me happy.”
Carole serves on the board of Philly Aids Thrift who will celebrate their 10th anniversary this year. To date, they have raised over $1 million dollars for HIV organizations. She is a member of the Center City Doll Club and Philadelphia Area Blythe Doll Collectors. Blythe dolls are another of Carole’s passions. She creates imaginative scenes for the dolls which she then photographs.
“I enjoy styling the dolls and taking their photos,” she says. “It is just like dressing my customers but on a smaller scale.”
Carole also creates sculpture and dioramas that follow themes, often incorporating Blythe dolls, and sometimes hand-beaded necklaces accented with milagros. She likes to make work that is “both fun and functional.” The piece shown below lights up, and can also serve as a lamp.
“In making dioramas, I found a home for all the tiny, cute items I have amassed over the years, “ she says. Her most recent piece will benefit The Philadelphia Children’s Alliance.
Carole is inspired by pre-Raphaelite and Surrealist art as well as Mexican folk art. She was a member of the South Street Renaissance Gallery and Saint March Gallery. Her work has been shown at Moore College of Art, University of the Arts, Muse Gallery, and The Print Center. A woman of many talents, Carole has also written for the Philadelphia City Paper and The Main Line Times. Her short story, “Meat” was included in the anthology, “Bed,” edited by Victoria A. Brownworth. Her newest story will be published in The Sun By The Sea this coming September. Carole lives with her husband Frank and their four cats: Sailor, Lula, Alexander, and Isabella.
Learn more about the creativity behind the scenes at Eye’s Gallery in our series of staff spotlights: