An unlikely event occurred in October. And by unlikely, I mean that a new business opened in downtown SLO. No, not closed. More improbable is the nature of the business—an art gallery. The Haub Gallery, to be precise.
- PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
Carrie and Jean-Paul opened their gallery doors—situated at 956 Monterey St., on the corner of Morro and Monterey streets—after years of searching for just the right space. Their stated purpose is to provide a local venue for technically sound contemporary art. Toward that end, they created a space that embraces and sells a refined Central Coast lifestyle. Sharing an entrance with Shadow Canyon Cellars guarantees that even wine—the requisite nectar of the leisurely California lifestyle—is readily available.
This is the lifestyle the Haubs were seeking when they moved to the county five years ago, after spending romantic weekends wine tasting and purchasing locally crafted jewelry in SLO. The only missing component—from their perspective—was the contemporary art, which they are more than happy to supply.
“We have to go to L.A. to see contemporary work, or San Francisco,” said Jean-Paul. “There is an outlet here but it is limited.”
Refined necklaces mingle, glimmering, with the more traditional paintings and sculpture, luring unsuspecting shoppers into a space they might ordinarily eschew—the all-terrifying gallery. The couple’s original vision for their shop didn’t include jewelry but economic considerations prompted them to seek jewelry makers to represent alongside their posse of carefully selected painters and sculptors. Two months into their stint as gallery owners they’re as proud of the craftsmanship and ingenuity invested in their wearable art as they are of the contemporary paintings they originally envisioned carrying.
The gallery’s current lineup includes Betsy Jones’ watercolor landscapes, Marni Mutrux’s abstracts in oil, Joanne Licsko’s oil paintings, Justin Abraham Johnson’s abstract landscapes, and Michael Hannon’s metalwork. The Haubs’ primary consideration when looking for new artists is technical mastery. Their second is that the pieces be accessible, both financially and thematically. The latter may be the most difficult to achieve, both because it’s unrealistic to expect people to fit art into their budget during an economic depression and because the question of what San Luis Obispo, as a community, considers artistically accessible often simply does not fall into the category of stimulating.
“There is more of the population that is going to enjoy a landscape scene,” acknowledged Jean-Paul. “They’re beautiful and they’re more accessible.” The fact that nearly every other gallery, café, and art venue in SLO is saturated with similarly self-congratulatory Central Coast landscapes certainly undermines the purpose of gifting the community with an authentic artistic voice and perspective, but underscores the challenge of making art a paying proposition.
The Haubs sought artists through referrals from gallery owners and painters. They pounded the pavement during ARTS Obispo’s Open Studios art tour in October. And they plan to continue looking in order to maintain a fresh rotation of artists every six to eight weeks.
“Every time someone comes in we want them to be able to find something new,” explained Jean-Paul. “We’re looking for a balanced portfolio. This is a chance to show, on a deeper level, the talents that are available here.”
- SOMETHING NEW: The newly opened Haub Gallery is located at 956 Monterey St. Hours of operation are Wednesdays from 1 to 6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday from 1 to 8 p.m., and Sundays from 1 to 6 p.m. For more information call 458-5664 or visit haubgallery.com.
While most of their artists are familiar faces within local galleries—Justin Abraham Johnson being the single possible exception—Carrie insists that they’re not averse to taking on lesser-known talent. Some artists, like the exquisitely expressive Marni Mutrux, hail from the periphery of the county; Mutrux owns the Vine Gallery in Paso Robles. Her abstract paintings run brown and turquoise, murky and light, across the gallery’s white, white walls. And Johnson is certainly a welcome and unexpected revelation, with paintings that pass for studies of anatomical models in retro shades of electric blue, yellow, and olive green against a sand background, circling and ripening geometric patterns with little cities and computer chips embedded within the forms. Even his landscapes are akin to apocalyptic sunsets with rugged planes steeped in red.
Soon, the blushingly youthful gallery walls will resound with jazz during concert evenings and in January the space will be absorbed into the first Friday Art After Dark rotation. The couple also intends to partner with as many local charities as possible; they’ve already participated in a fundraiser for the Women’s Shelter and have plans in the works for an event on behalf of the Humane Society.
And while wine glasses, red trees, and landscape paintings aren’t exactly newcomers to the SLO art scene—oh, that they were!—the opening of a new gallery is always cause for celebration.
Arts Editor Ashley Schwellenbach doesn’t make enough to beg Congress for money. Send battle cries against the bourgeois to firstname.lastname@example.org.