Robert Lumpp went from transporting passengers on a riverboat vessel along the Mississippi to moving customers with the artwork he’s curated at Hobe Sound Art Gallery.
Artist and riverboat Capt. Robert Lumpp could never run out of stories to tell about life along the mighty Mississippi River. The Hobe Sound Art Gallery owner and curator spent 40 years operating riverboat vessels that, throughout his career, carried 3 million people before he retired to his own little piece of paradise in Hobe Sound. With an eye for art and an ability to make browsers feel welcomed, it’s no wonder the Hobe Sound Art Gallery is becoming widely known as a wonderful place for viewing and buying local to national masterpieces.
Q: How did you decide to live in Hobe Sound?
A: My wife and I moved to Hobe Sound in 2012 after looking all along Florida’s east coast from Amelia Island to Palm Beach. There was something so special and unique about this area that it felt right. One of the things that drew me in was that the area is not congested; it’s unique, and it is in close proximity to Jupiter Island and some really beautiful subdivisions like Mariner Sands, Loblolly, Medalist, Governors Landing, Mystic Cove, Hobe Sound Golf Club and others. When my wife passed away in 2013, I sold the big house and found the gallery space, which was built as a gallery by art dealer and philanthropist John Payson as an auxiliary to his Manhattan gallery. I’ve been here three years now, going on four. Someone once told me that my gallery belongs in Palm Beach, but I beg to differ. I think it belongs right here in Hobe Sound, and I hope people will come see what we have to offer, not just drive by at 35 miles an hour. It’s really a unique and wonderful place to visit and enjoy.
Q: How do you decide which artists to feature?
A: I represent about 20 artists here—half are local. One of my best artists is from Arkansas, and another is from North Carolina. As the owner and curator of the gallery, somebody has to make the judgment on what we carry, and I guess that makes me the one who has to take the gamble on what shows and sells. We try to carry quality things, and not everything is expensive. Nor is everything a painting, which surprises some people. We carry a Treasure Coast artist who does some wonderful metal artwork. There’s also an artist who paints portraits of animals, and we work with the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast. We have a unique line of gifts here, too, and things like fountains and lamps—unique items that are interesting to look at and help create a mix to fit everyone’s budget.
Q: Can you tell what people are looking for when they come in?
A: When people come in, they find us to be warm and welcoming, very friendly and hospitable. We don’t chase you around the gallery because we want you to browse and wander. There are chairs here and there, so you have a chance to sit down and enjoy the space and the artwork, and if and when you have questions about the artists, we’re there to answer your questions or help you find what you’re looking for. If we don’t carry what you’re looking for, we may know another gallery or artist in the area that does. We’re also happy to work with you to make sure the piece you choose fits your place. If you get it home and it doesn’t work well in your space, we’ll work with you because when you’re happy, I’m happy. We’ll never be a big gallery, but I want to be your gallery, and I’ll bet you’ll find something here you’ll like in your budget.