Three Havens Artworks came to be because area resident Linda Gaugert and her husband were interested in commercial real estate.
The two purchased the former Sweet Seasons building at 101 Three Havens Dr. in Alexandria in 2004. Although they didn’t set out with any specific plans for the space, Gaugert began envisioning it as an art gallery as renovations were completed.
She sold her first painting when her friend asked her for a landscape piece. And at the time, she was still working as a physical therapist at the Douglas County Hospital.
Gaugert decided to take a break from her day job and paint more because she wanted to spend more time with her three daughters and have more flexible hours.
Her wish came true, and she opened the gallery in October 2004, featuring her work along with creations from 30 other Minnesota artists.
Gaugert said the studio drew many tourists and seasonal homeowners the following summer, since the gallery is located close to Lakes Carlos, Lake LeHomme Dieu and Lake Darling.
One customer suggested she offer home portraits after seeing Gaugert’s paintings of buildings and landscapes.
So, she tried it out when a couple from California commissioned two home paintings. They were so pleased with the result that they ordered six more. Since then, Gaugert has completed more than 50 commissioned art pieces.
Business was running smoothly for the first three years until a road construction project began in 2007. For two summers, major roads leading to the gallery were closed.
“I was able to reroute some customers around the lakes, but lost much of my momentum,” she said.
In 2009, the highway in front of her shop closed completely and the nationwide recession hit.
Gaugert decided to limit gallery hours to the summers so she could return to work as a physical therapist, this time for the Runestone Area Education District. Since she had summers off, Gaugert used the studio space in her free time and kept painting.
“I try to learn something new every day about art, whether it's listening to podcasts, taking an online course, or bantering with fellow artists,” she said.
After her husband went through and renovated the building a second time, he created four separate office spaces. Gaugert kept two of the suites, so she could continue selling her artwork. She started learning to paint as a teenager, discovering more about the craft through classes and books, and has now been painting for 52 years.
After COVID-19 hit last March, Gaugert started painting nearly everyday and realized she had a plethora of paintings ready to sell.
She invited nine other artists to show their work and has now reopened as Three Havens Artworks.
“To say ‘I love to paint,’ does not sufficiently describe the depth of commitment and respect I have for the process,” Gaugert said. “I guess it comes down to, ‘I have to paint.’”
The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday afternoons, and there will be a local studio tour event, Art deTour, June 18 and 19.