April 11th, 2024

Gallery MAR Carmel co-owner Thomas Cushman in the new Gallery MAR Carmel North location


Embarking on a journey of expansion, Gallery MAR unveils its latest endeavor in Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA: a secondary location for Gallery MAR Carmel. In Carmel, we are keeping the welcoming first gallery space you’ve come to know and love, but are now adding a second, even larger space, called Gallery MAR Carmel North. 

Nestled just blocks away from its predecessor, amidst the charm of Dolores Street, both spaces promise to captivate with elegance and warmth, inviting patrons to indulge in the artistry that defines Gallery MAR’s essence. 

In celebration of the upcoming fifth anniversary of Gallery MAR Carmel and the opening of Gallery MAR Carmel North, we chatted with co-owners Maren Mullin and Thomas Cushman, reflecting on the allure of their picturesque seaside establishment while eagerly anticipating this new venture.


Could you tell us about this exciting new Gallery MAR Carmel North location? 

Maren Mullin: After more than a year of working through various options and pursuing intriguing routes of growth, we have landed on opening a second gallery space in Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA – just two blocks north, still right on Dolores. Gallery MAR Carmel is gorgeous, and my partner Thomas Cushman has created the perfect Gallery MAR, by the sea!

Thomas Cushman: Well, it’s on the same street that we’ve been on, about two blocks north of Gallery MAR Carmel, so it’s really easy and really convenient. You need to simply go right down the street and you’re at the other gallery. 

The whole inspiration for this secondary location was that we needed more wall space. We needed to show more artwork, so the solution was an additional space. 


Natural light filtering in through the windows on Delores St in Gallery MAR Carmel North


What can collectors expect from this new location?

Thomas Cushman: It has a much different feel: concrete floors, white walls, etc. It’s a much more contemporary feeling space. We’re showing the same artists, but they really do have a different effect in that different atmosphere.


What do you think makes this particular gallery special?

Maren Mullin: The light, the space, the open plan all make for an enlightened experience. We are looking forward to connecting with friends and collectors on the North side of town.

Thomas Cushman: It has a lot of windows, so there’s a lot of natural sunlight. It’s really pretty inside when the sun comes through. It also really stands out because most of the buildings here in Carmel are completely connected, so you walk by doorway after doorway with the buildings all running into each other, whereas this building is almost a standalone, so it really has street presence and visibility. Plus, that means more windows all around, so the front and West side of the street get this beautiful afternoon sunlight and everything just glows. 

Otherwise, we have the exact same Gallery MAR standards in terms of service and interaction and professionalism, so it’s all one gallery, but in two locations.


Thomas Cushman ready to greet new collectors at Gallery MAR Carmel North


How do you feel about the way that Carmel-by-the-Sea has embraced Gallery MAR?

Maren Mullin: I love the way the community has embraced us (even naming us Best Gallery in town in our second year!). Carmel-by-the-Sea is such a special place. I always say, Carmel has it all… shopping, dining, fine art, wine tasting… and a gorgeous beach.

Thomas Cushman: You know, it really has been remarkable. Even the other gallery owners here in Carmel have been so welcoming and so helpful. Then the clientele and the townsfolk… I mean, every day somebody stops into the North location and says how nice it is to see this gallery here and how they love having this work here in Carmel and what a difference the gallery has made. It’s just amazing, it really is just amazing. 


Gallery MAR Carmel co-owner Maren Mullin in the Gallery MAR Carmel North gallery


What is your favorite thing about your job?

Thomas Cushman: My favorite part of this job is what I’m doing right now. I’ve just completely taken apart the South location to completely re-hang it. Just looking at the incredible artwork, and seeing how many choices I have, and seeing which work plays well with which other artists work, and finding these connections that you didn’t necessarily expect. Sometimes, when I just happen to set a work down somewhere next to another, temporarily, I’ll look at it and think, “Oh my God, that works really well together. I should hang those artists next to each other.” It’s my favorite part. For me, it’s the most challenging and also the most rewarding part. 


This May, Gallery MAR Carmel celebrates its fifth anniversary. What’s changed for Gallery MAR Carmel in those five years? 

Thomas Cushman: Well, for one, I have some great staff now. Kimberly Wolf came on board two years ago. She had been working at the Carmel Chamber of Commerce. She’s been such a great addition. She’s just incredibly responsible, really invested in the success of the gallery, and so personable. Another change I have noticed is that I feel like I’ve seen other galleries start to show more contemporary work. I feel like there has been a kind of a reaction to our contemporary gallery here in that way. I don’t want to overemphasize that, but I do feel like I’ve definitely seen a little influence on the community. 


Gallery MAR Carmel North shining like a jewel in the evening light


What have been some of your favorite experiences at Gallery MAR Carmel so far? 

Maren Mullin: Our opening weekend, five years ago, was so momentous. My partner, Thomas, planned the perfect weekend with a beach bonfire with friends, family, and artists along with inspirational speeches and toasts. We had an old-fashioned ribbon cutting and Chamber celebration, and our artists came to paint in and around the gallery, too. My little girls, then 5 and 3, came with me. For the upcoming 5th anniversary, they are once again joining me in Carmel (for the first time in five years!), and I’m looking forward to sharing this special place with them and celebrating our amazing Carmel team and their excellent work.

Thomas Cushman: Maybe because it just happened so recently, but our grand opening of the North location comes right to mind. It was wall-to-wall people, absolutely jam-packed, and everybody just seemed so happy and complimentary and congratulatory. I hadn’t expected that. You know when you throw a party, you just hope that somebody shows up! The community really turned out and our buyers really turned out. It was incredibly gratifying. It really solidified all the work that’s happened these last five years. Even other gallery owners and other gallery workers came to say congratulations. It was so supportive and so incredible.

Written and interviewed by Veronica Vale