Friday, June 11, 2010

Gallery Interview: Eclectic Expressions: Artists Studios and Galleries

What is the name of your Gallery or Artspace: Eclectic Expressions: Artists Studios and Galleries

What is your name and what is your position at the Gallery: Kate Wickham and I am the Gallery Director

Describe your Gallery space: Eclectic Expressions is in a renovated 1914 farmhouse on the edge of Arlington's downtown business district, national historic district and in the entertainment district, less than a mile from the Cowboy Stadium. It is shaded by native pecan and red oak trees estimated to be 125-150 years old. Inside you'll find original hardwood floors, doors, windows and moldings. Some of the glass has been replaced through the years but many panes are original. High ceilings, and plentiful natural light add to the ambiance. We have three galleries, one former bedroom is currently occupied by Sarah Troutman as her private studio, and a spacious kitchen. My office is in what was originally a porch converted in 1936. Part of the north gallery, the restroom and my office have the original bead wood from the original porches. In the restroom, one wall is the original exterior siding; the west porch was enclosed by the Palmer family to enlarge the dining room and create the original bathroom.

How long has the gallery been open: Elemental Connections featuring works of local favorites Karen Piloto and Deanna Wilson opened February 21, 2009. Earlier that day we had electricians, plumbers and painters finishing up. Without the efforts of friends to hang art, clean and prepare food and drinks we would never have opened on time.

What was the impetus to start the Gallery: Barbara McFarland facilitates a group of artists who have been meeting for years on Monday nights. When I joined the group the end of 1999 we were in the classroom of Lyn Arts on Bowen Street. Lyn later sold that property and downsized and the Monday group needed more room. I personally wanted studio space to transition from hobbyist to professional. Because it's my nature to tackle new projects, I started exploring options and the concept expanded to include a gallery.

Do you have exhibits: We focus primarily on abstract and non-objective art, opening new exhibits every 5 weeks. While we look at local artists, we have connected with talented artists who recently moved to the area and others originally from Dallas who now live in Kansas City. For example, Natascha Rijfkogel moved here from Panama the end of March 2009. In Panama Natascha was a art professor in theater arts, she hosted a weekly TV show for the arts, and was secretary of the Panamanian art association. Okezie Nwosu moved here from Nigeria February 2009. In Nigeria he had successfully operated a gallery of his art for over a decade. Okezie's wife came as part of a nursing recruitment program and he followed. In October we will showcase work of Awadh Baryoum who came from Yemen to the U.S. on a Fullbright scholarship in 1995 and recently relocated to Dallas from New York.

Do you add new artists regularly and if so what is the process in which you select them: As a new gallery we are open to new artists. Many exhibiting artists I have found visiting exhibitions and festivals or through various art associations; other artists have approached me or been referred by others.

As a gallery what do you look for when reviewing artists: Like all galleries, I look for artists who have developed a unique style with a wow stopping impact. I was at the Haley Henman Gallery for an exhibition by Amali ElMasri. I glanced to the right into the hall between the restroom and kitchen, said "Wow" out loud and my body automatically backed up, my face lit up with a big smile. That's the affect I'm looking for with artists.

What is the most frustrating thing you have to deal with when it comes to artists: Getting jpgs of artwork early enough to get out to PR outlets continues to be the greatest challenge.

What is your personal favorite exhibition from the gallery, past or present, and why: That's a tough question because we've had a lot of great artists since we opened. One of the most magical was the first both because of the artists and the fact that we pulled off the opening reception. The next most amazing would have been "African Diaspora" that opened August 15, 2009 with Natascha Rijfkogel, Okezie Nwosu, Carol Simmons and Terrell Whitehead. Carol was raised in Louisiana, had lived in Dallas for a period then moved to Charleston for many years and moved back to the area December 2008. Carol began her art career in the first grade by taking sewing materials to school, making and selling doll clothes during recess. Carol is the epitome of southern gentility. One night I was here late when a couple stopped by and I met Terrell learning he is an artist. He was raised in Georgia and moved here when he was 18 and now works for a small furniture company that allows him to use wood scraps and their tools for his sculptures. Terrell has had no art training is from a low income southern culture. Suddenly I had a wide spectrum of culture and experience all with African roots.

How many shows do you have each year: We have 10 shows, closing the gallery for a few days the end of December, beginning of January.

What is a typical event like at the Studio: Opening receptions are from 5 - 9 pm with wine, cheese and fruit. Attendance is unpredictable, sometimes heavy, sometimes disappointingly light. I try to personally welcome each visitor and introduce them to the artists and other visitors and am delighted that several friendships have developed between visitors as a result.

Just for fun who is your favorite artist, living or dead, and what about their work moves you: (This does not have to be from your gallery-- it can be Rembrandt if that is the case) If I have to choose only one it would be Picasso because of his unique vision and broad evolution of style.

What new things do you have in store for this year: Melting Pot will open June 30. It is a juried exhibition celebrating the diversity of cultures in the U.S. It's opening on a Wednesday to stay away from the July 4 weekend, although it was the holiday that inspired the theme; July 4 is about the right to be different.

Do you have any up coming exhibit that you would like to tell us about: Bernardo Cantu completed his MFA at North Texas in May and will install work from his thesis for August 7 opening. I connected with him over the internet and drove to Denton to see his work. This will be a "do not miss" exhibit; it's culturally significant with a fresh and unique face. Natashcha Rijfkogel will introduce a new series exploring time with a September 11 opening. I had a couple of her pieces at Art In The Park recently and was gratified by the number of people who stopped to study them. There will be another artist, but who is not yet final. October 9 Awadh Baryoum will bring his work to Arlington. I saw his exhibit at the main library in downtown Dallas and scheduled him as quickly as I could. There is an evident and compelling reason he received a Fullbright scholarship for art.Serious art collectors will want to view each of these artists; each has that Wow factor.November 13 will open the Christmas exhibition with works from the gallery artists all priced from $50 to $500 for gifting

Eclectic Expressions
Location 201 E. Sanford, Arlington TX 76011 that's the NE corner of Sanford and Mesquite. Center Street is the southbound corridor and Mesquite -one block east is the northbound corridor through the center of Arlington.
Contact Person: Kate Wickham
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