The sign outside 535 Gallery in the Cooke Park Design District might as well read “Go big or go home.” The gallery opened its doors with an exhibit of massive abstract paintings by C. Anthony Huber and Cynthia Kath last month. Its focus on large works continues Saturday night with an opening reception for an exhibit of works by gallery owner Wendy Westlake and gallery director Nick Sinclair.
The gallery, which serves both residential and commercial markets, is striving to put art where people live.
“Art enhances space, art enhances people’s feelings when they’re at work. There’s a whole philosophy about what art does. It’s not just decoration. It can actually make you feel better,” said Westlake.
Whether or not you can afford the exquisite pieces on display in the gallery, stop in to check them out. According to Westlake, it’s absolutely cool for people to walk in and soak up the vibes.
“It’s an experience. When you come in, you have an experience with the artwork, in part because of the scale, you can’t help but not to. It’s kind of like, in your face. I want to offer that. I want you to not have to pay a penny and come in here and experience art. But, also, as a for-profit gallery, I would love for you to fall in love with a piece and buy it and take it home with you,” she said.
Wendy Westlake’s background is in watercolors, but for this show, she is exploring the world of acrylic paints.
“I’ve been dabbling with acrylic for over ten years, but also [a] Dallas trip was kind of transformative for us. I just was like, I have to do this before I die. I have to paint at least one giant abstract painting. But of course, then, you can’t just stop with one, it’s like potato chips. You gotta do more than one.”
“For this show, I’m trying to stay within a body of work that fits one theme. I’ve been inspired by shadows and patterns. It’s funny because C. Anthony has some of the same stuff. We compared notes on what we have for photo references. I’ve been taking pictures of cracks on sidewalks. I didn’t know that he was doing that. But also, I’ll stop and I’ll see the sunlight coming through tree branches and leaves and it just creates these awesome pattern and if the wind is blowing and the sun is changing, it just changes right in front of your eyes. And what’s cool about that is it’s just like immediately a grey scale, there’s no color imposed, but there’s this design. There’s this awesome design for you to work with, but then I can make it all orange, or make it blue and red, or whatever I want, but it’s kind of giving me a jumping off point, so shadows and patterns is basically the theme for what I’m exploring.”
Nick Sinclair’s work is entrenched in hot rod culture. With this show, he makes his first foray into portraits. Normally a pen and ink artist, he got into paint.
“It’s a break from the super technical clean black and white pen and ink to, like, obviously messy and super loose, and thick,” said Sinclair.
“I want you to know you didn’t go to TJ Maxx or IKEA and buy a print. I want you to walk up to it and go, ‘Okay, this was hand touched, this was hand done.’ There’s drips that you can’t mimic that stick off the canvas, the edges aren’t refined, because there’s paint that’s coming over it and all that stuff, I want someone to know that there was a hand to that.”
“The next show, I’m going to switch up the subject matter but I’m going to stay in the same style. I enjoy it. It’s messy and it sucks up way too much paint, which costs money, but I like it. I even do that in my pen and ink drawings. I will always leave pencil lines behind so you can tell that it was hand done.”
“I want to be like John Henry. Me vs. the computer. I want to leave that trace of the human touch to it. Sometimes, like the pen and ink, is so technical that, I just want people to know there was a human touch.”
“I don’t know where it comes from. In high school, I would always have that piece of paper, so it didn’t smudge, and I got rid of that a long time ago and just love it, the smudges.”