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Art always on her mind

Hali Lookabaugh, the woman behind Muse Gallery, is seeing life come full circle.

Story by Amy Coyne Bredeson + Photography by M. Kat

For as long as Hali Lookabaugh can remember, she has been surrounded by art.

Her mother, Caren Petersen, worked with artists for years, eventually opening Muse Gallery in Columbus, Ohio, in 1997.

Lookabaugh grew up attending art shows, visiting artists’ studios and watching her mother pore over each piece before deciding to represent it in her gallery. Through her mother, she gained a true appreciation for art and learned a great deal about running a business.

“What I really learned early on was relationships are everything,” Lookabaugh said about her mother’s connection with her clients and the artists she represented. She watched as her mother worked closely with them and became good friends with them along the way.

Lookabaugh attended college for marketing, then studied real estate. But art was always on her mind. She fell in love with it at an early age and always knew she wanted to open her own gallery one day.

After getting married and honeymooning on Hilton Head Island, she and her husband, Kevin, realized they loved the community and wanted to live in the Lowcountry. So, they packed up and moved from Columbus, and Hali opened her own Muse Gallery at 65 Arrow Road, Unit B.

That was three years ago, and the Hilton Head fine art gallery is thriving.

Lookabaugh represents more than 20 mid-career contemporary artists from all over the country. Her gallery features an array of mediums, including oils, acrylics, inks, underwater photography and sculptures. Most of the work is abstract.

She works with many accomplished artists, such as Randall LaGro, Mel Rea, David Hostetler, Lauren Mantecón, Signe Stuart and Robert Livsey Wells.

All of the artists and their art have one thing in common – Lookabaugh has to be able to connect with them on a personal level.

“All the work you see in here is unique and original,” Lookabaugh said, while at the gallery. “You know that the artists have had their hands on them. I think that’s the coolest part, just envisioning the artist working on that particular piece and knowing that it has part of them really in it.”

Now that Lookabaugh has a gallery – and a daughter – she is seeing her life come full circle.

Four-year-old McKenna is already learning to appreciate the world of art. Just as her mother was submersed in it as a young girl, so is McKenna. She spends a lot of time in the gallery, meeting artists and even getting to paint with some of them. She draws pictures and hangs them up around her mother’s gallery, adding prices to each in crayon.

“I’ll be interested to see what she goes for when she’s older,” Lookabaugh said, adding that a love for art is just in her blood.

“There was no fighting it for me,” she said. “I love what I do. It’s very much who I am.”


LOCAL Life asked Hali Lookabaugh to select five of her personal favorites whose works currently are on display at Muse Gallery. Here are her selections: