The Baldwin Avenue Gallery is located at 12 N. Baldwin Ave., Sierra Madre, California. This eye-catching art gallery is owned by Mary Hoffman Serr and Michael Todd Serr, and they share an amazing life story that includes Akido, Jujitsu, art, and film.
By Jean Sudbury
Michael’s was born in the rural Midwest, but his mom and dad put everything they owned in their VW van and moved to California as a kid. Michael describes his father as type James Dean and his mother as “the belle of the ball.” They shared a romantic philosophy of love rather than money. Michael spent his youth in a hippie town near Ventura, California. Michael is an artist whose works have been exhibited in California art galleries, including Visalia and Half Moon Bay.
Mary grew up in the San Joaquin Valley, the land of cows and cotton. From a young age, she took various martial arts classes in Visalia, California, including her continued practice of Akido. She moved to West LA for college, earning a degree in fashion design and merchandising. She received her graduate degree in Fashion Design from Chico State University.
After years of adventure, Mary returned to Visalia and resumed her Aikido studies at a local Dojo studio owned by Michael, a Jujitsu expert and teacher. They became friends, good friends, and that friendship became a partnership, then a marriage. They have been together for 15 years. Michael always wanted to be a film producer, but without a film degree, how did he get in? Thanks to his martial arts expertise, he became the bodyguard of actors on film sets where he learned the process and development of filmmaking. His creative and artistic eye and martial arts expertise led him to script reviews and supervision of sets and stunts.
Meanwhile, Michael’s parents had moved from Visalia to Sierra Madre, where his mother taught for many years at the Gooden School. In 2006, Michael and Mary also moved to Sierra Madre and raised their family. Their dream was to share their art with Sierra Madre and help other artists achieve their goals. When the commercial space on Baldwin Avenue became available for rental, they seized the opportunity to make their dream come true. They redesigned the space and created the right place to display the art.
Works by seven local artists on display at the Baldwin Avenue Gallery include acrylics, oils, sculptures and two paintings by Michael. A patio behind the gallery will feature poetry, music and arts education. Mary and Michael see The BAG as a celebration of creativity in many forms. Art is interactive communication, and that message is what they want to convey.
> The Baldwin art gallery, The BAG, is now open Thursday through Sunday. The ribbon cutting will take place on Thursday July 18. The grand opening ceremony will take place on Saturday July 10. For more information, visit baldwinavenuegallery.com.