Mckinney Courier-gazette > News
Galleries replace cellblocks at Old Collin County Prison
McKinney artist Gary Alexander holds the decorated Longhorn he calls “Big ‘ol Boy” at the Old Collin County Prison. Alexander said the piece is embossed with copper, turquoise, jade and native Texas rock, and sealed with lacquer. It will sell for $3,500. This photo and more are available through MyCapture at www.scntx.com. Photo: Robert James Hughes/McKinney Courier-Gazette
By Brandi Hart, McKinney Courier-Gazette
The Old Collin County Prison on Kentucky Street might have once been a place where people were locked up.
But those days are gone as the free flow of ideas and artistic expression are now featured on works of art in all shapes and sizes in the three galleries that now call the prison home.
Galleria d’Arte is located on the first floor of the prison at 115 S. Kentucky St., and is home to McKinney resident Carrie Cameron Garner’s artwork. Gallery d’Arte used to be located at the southeast corner of Kentucky Street and Louisiana Street, but had to move as Spoons restaurant is moving into the space and will open at the end of August.
Garner and the rest of the galleries moved into the prison at the beginning of June and have had a steady flow of curious visitors anxious to see what vivid ways the artists have used to express themselves. Garner, who owns Galleria d’Arte, along with the other gallery owners rent space from Stephanie McAndrew, who owns the prison.
“When we found out we were losing our lease, it was pretty devastating and I considered moving to Dallas. Then it hit me that we could try the prison. Stephanie McAndrew has just been wonderful for us. She is truly a patron of the arts,” Garner said.
The McKinney resident showcases her own artwork and artists who are from McKinney, Collin County, and the Dallas and Fort Worth region. Garner opened Gallery d’Arte in April 2005 in an effort to showcase “high-end art” and now has more room to showcase works from more artists.
“I think when you walk in the doors of the prison, the artists here have outstanding one-of-a kind pieces. The artwork in Galleria d’Arte is sophisticated and our clientele is someone who appreciates contemporary art but who also likes the classics. They usually like artwork that is off the beaten path and that are one-of-a kind pieces,” Garner said.
Garner’s oil paintings of landscapes and flowers and other subjects look as if 3-D as she uses palette knives to make the paint stand up off the canvas at higher intervals, giving it a layered texture.
The gallery also features five jewelry artists; two potters; a father and son team from Dallas who make mouth-blown glass art; seven to eight artists who paint and create mixed media pieces that are hung along the walls; and a sculptor who embosses skulls of large game animals. The prices for the various art in the gallery range from $59 for a small mouth-blown hanging glass ball to $7,500 for a large, detailed painting.
One of those artists is Kimm Lanus, of Granbury, who has at least two bright paintings featuring a happy male and female skeleton dancing in bright-colored clothing. The paintings have the theme of the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, and are located on the wall in the MeSo Wine Lounge. The MeSo Wine Lounge, located downstairs in the back of Galleria d’Arte, should open Thursday. It will feature an assortment of premier beer, wine and liquors, antipastos, cheeses, appetizers and desserts that will all be made at the gallery and not catered, Garner said.
Another artist whose work can be found in the Galleria d’Arte is Inga Adams, who makes large, dramatic sterling silver jewelry. Susan Hanson, of McKinney, also has her yellow, orange and mild colored mixed media pieces hanging on the wall in the MeSo Lounge and throughout Galleria d’Arte.
Oneta Young, an artist who stopped into Galleria d’Arte before the gallery moved to the prison, was wearing some jewelry that impressed Garner so much that she opted to have Young’s woven necklaces featured in her gallery.
“She came walking in right before we moved to the prison. I asked her where did she get her necklace and she said she made it. She makes beautiful woven necklaces with metallic fibers from Europe and includes beads in the weave,” Garner said.
A featured artist also has items that are displayed in the first room to the right on the first floor of the prison each month at Galleria d’Arte. Karen Hall Nitz’s art work, which Garner said resembles old world Renaissance paintings and tapestries that showcase angels, cathedrals and portraits will be featured from 7 to 10 p.m. Aug. 11. Nitz’s work should also be featured throughout August at Galleria d’Arte.
Galleria d’Arte is planning to feature its second Dia de los Muertos celebration artwork in November, or around Nov. 1, on the Day of the Dead, Garner said.
Pernie Fallon and her husband, Guy Giersch, who is also the city of McKinney’s historic preservation officer, own the gallery located on the second floor, which is called Studio Duende. Duende is the spirit or force of artistic mystery, which is equivalent to one’s soul, that drives an artist’s inspiration, Giersch said. He has numerous photos he’s taken hanging on the walls, and Fallon has an assortment of paintings, drawings, some of which are made using pastels, and even some photographs displayed throughout their studio space.
Though the two create art in their spare time and Fallon even teaches art to students at a Dallas Independent School District middle school, the couple has never owned an art studio together.
“We’re getting a lot of compliments and questions from people. As people become more familiar with this gallery, hopefully more people will look and purchase art,” Giersch said.
Like the Galleria d’Arte, Studio Duende hopes to showcase six artists per year, Giersch said.
The couple plans to have a theme each month for their artwork. In July, they used the summer-based theme “Splash.”
Giersch, who has a darkroom at home, loves art, taking pictures and finding things to shoot with his camera.
“You have to have a philosophical idea about why you’re doing it or a reason you might say. If you go into the fact that art is a doorway for what is around us, then art allows someone an opportunity to look at, or pay attention to something they might otherwise have not noticed,” Giersch said. “People should also buy art not as something to invest in. Buy art because you like it and because it enriches your life.”
Located on the third floor of the prison is the Aristeia Gallery, which is owned by five local artists and friends who met in painting classes at the Art Institute of McKinney, which is also located on the square. Vicky Saylor, Sandy Bauder, Tina Wantland, Ann Frazier and Lisa Temple make up the Aristeia Gallery.
Bauder’s colorful portraits of ballet and flamenco dancers in bright red dresses can be seen dressing up the brown prison cells. Temple’s large, layered and detailed portraits of a man who is wearing black slacks, a white and long sleeve dress shirt, and holding a bright, silver trumpet in his right hand adorn the back wall of the gallery. Temple’s portraits also include a large painting of a small, brunette child’s face and a white bird on a dramatic black background.
Frazier’s ceramic pottery work is 90 percent comprised of animals, including brightly colored, funky insects and animals. Some of the pieces look as if they were inspired by the set of the Tim Burton movie “Beetlejuice” as some have large, luscious, animated red lips, and some have purple and green stripes. Frazier also has larger pieces that include Swarovski crystal.
Hanging on some of the cell walls are very detailed, elaborate and defined portrait paintings that were painted by Saylor. Some of the paintings have very precise lines and strokes and resemble a photograph. Saylor’s most recent paintings show softer, more relaxed portraits that have an impressionist quality.
Wantland uses a different painting technique than her friends as she uses palette knives to manipulate the oil paint onto the canvas, thus giving it a more structured and sculpted look and adding dimensions to it.
The women have never owned an art gallery together, and are finding the experience to be fun, Temple said.
“The balance to create and being a gallery owner has been fun,” Temple said.
Like the other two galleries, the Aristeia Gallery also features an artist once a month. The gallery will showcase works by Kathy Kromer, who uses bright, bold and intense color in her impressionist paintings, from 7 to 10 p.m. Aug. 11.
The galleries at the prison are open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. All the galleries are open from 7 to 10 p.m. the second Saturday of each month, along with most downtown businesses. Bands provide musical entertainment on the square throughout downtown as businesses extend their normal hours, which are typically 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information about Galleria d’Arte, call the gallery at 469-742-9509, visit Garner’s Web site www.carriegarner.com or send her an e-mail at email@example.com.
For more information about Studio Duende, call 214-592-9888 or visit the studio’s Web site at www.artstudioduende.com, or send an e-mail to Fallon or Giersch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact staff writer Brandi Hart at email@example.com. To post comments online, access this story at www.scntx.com.
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