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Lifting the Vale




The opening of Madeline Vale’s Fine Art Gallery in downtown Paso Robles this September marked a distinct change in the makeup of the downtown scene. Located a block from City Park and just steps away from great local tasting rooms, restaurants, and shopping, Vale Fine Art offers the North County a chance to dive into the world of modern art.

VISIT TO SEE :  Vale Fine Art paints a new picture of art in the North County. - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • VISIT TO SEE : Vale Fine Art paints a new picture of art in the North County.

Madeline Vale might be new to owning her own gallery, but she isn’t new to the art industry.

“I’ve been working in galleries and art for 20 years,” she said. “I started in Palm Beach, and then I moved to Los Angeles, but I love this area and I saw a need for a place to display great modern pieces.”

One painting in the gallery depicts an El Camino racing down a street, its shining red exterior muted by the cloud of dust it leaves in its wake: “This painting was done by an artist from San Francisco; he’s a great guy from the skate scene,” she said.

It’s clear that Vale Fine Art has made a place for both regional and international artists to display their talents.

Vale’s extensive background in the industry has allowed her to work with some big-name artists like Edward Walton Wilcox, who has several pieces on display in the gallery. Wilcox’s work ranges from playful to surreal. A large sepia-toned portrait of Chairman Mao, titled Mao as Panda, hangs prominently on one wall. Another piece features a dream-like, color-saturated landscape.

“Each piece has to have an aesthetic appeal,” Vale said. “I like art that has a level of sophistication; I like elegance with an edge.”

Yet none of the art Vale chooses is inaccessible.

“It was great,” she said. “There was a young boy in here the other day when Edward Wilcox was in the gallery, and this little boy was so curious about Edward’s work, so Edward took him around and helped explain each piece to him.”

Vale’s taste is evident in all of the pieces on display. In one corner, a “biomorphic sculpture” depicting the body of a dog with a lily for a head sparks both amusement and curiosity. Vale describes the work in her gallery as “half abstract and half figurative.” It also offers a mix of local art.

“I wanted to provide a central location for local artists to gain success,” she said. “We have some very talented people in

this area.”

Vale is open to other forms of artistic expression: “We’re planning on expanding to other mediums like performance and installation as well.”

Vale’s space has a lot to offer, and her calendar is filling up quickly.

“On Nov. 22, the Paso Robles Digital Film Festival will be doing a discussion in the gallery, and that will be a great opportunity for people to come see us,” she said.

Her inviting space provides a chance to get exposure to thought-provoking forms of expression and also provides an opportunity for both regional and international artists to display their work in a growing community of art enthusiasts and buyers. Its location near great food and wine makes it the perfect stop for anyone spending a day exploring the North County.

Vale Fine Art is at 619 12th St. in Paso Robles. For gallery hours, directions, and other gallery information, visit the gallery website,, or their Facebook page.

Fast facts

Astronomy Night is an evening of stargazing with an educational presentation given by Cal Poly professor John Keller as he shows mind-blowing slides of the galaxy, followed by views of the night sky through powerful telescopes on Oct. 23 at Claiborne & Churchill. Claiborne & Churchill wines and a hearty soup dinner by Popolo Rotisserie are included. Go to for more info and to purchase tickets. …

The 2011 Coats For Kids drive is underway. Donate coats and sweaters to keep SLO County kids warm this winter at one of the many drop-off locations throughout the county. For a list of drop-off locations and other information, visit the San Luis Obispo Rotaract Club at its website

Intern Maeva Considine compiled this week’s Strokes & Plugs. Send your business news to [email protected].

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