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Gallerist thrilled with art around town



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Local sculptor Laura Gabriel modeled as the “Young Woman with a Violin,” so she could be painted during an ArtCapsule event. (click for larger version)
September 21, 2011 - For those who may not have noticed, famous paintings popped up all over Oxford last week and no one's more delighted about it than Robb Leland.

"I think the installations were executed flawlessly and very creatively, I might add," said Leland, who's the proprietor of downtown's ArtCapsule Gallery & Frame, located at 5 S. Washington St.

The paintings (shown on Page 10) are reproductions of seven famous masterpieces that hang in the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) as part of the museum's permanent collection.

"I think it's good for the community because it's encouraging education about the arts and that's important for society," Leland said.

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It's all part of the DIA's Inside/Out program, which is designed to connect with people outside the museum's walls by treating metro Detroit as one big, open-air gallery.

"Their goal is to get people down to the museum to see the real thing," Leland said.

The paintings will be on display in Oxford until the end of November. Maps showing where all the paintings are located are available at the ArtCapsule.

"A lot of people still don't really know what's going on, so we've had plenty of folks come into the gallery and ask," Leland said.

Leland noted the mere presence of these classic works of art is encouraging young people to ask their parents and grandparents questions about them.

"It spurs this interest in learning among young people and anytime that happens the adult is bound to learn something, too," he said.

ArtCapsule is hosting one of the seven masterpieces. Outside the gallery's rear entrance hangs "Young Woman with a Violin," painted by Italian artist Orazio Gentileschi in 1612.

"It just seemed to make sense because we attract folks who are passionate about the arts," Leland said. "This is a great audience for the DIA to appeal to . . . (The gallery has) sort of behaved like the de facto art center for the community."

Last week, the ArtCapsule hosted an event during which a model (see photo) posed like the violinist in the famous painting, while artists from the Michigan Portrait Society created their own breathtaking interpretations.

Surrounding the Gentileschi reproduction outside the ArtCapsule is a lively, eclectic and colorful mural painted by Oxford artist Larry "Sinister" Stephens.

Leland commissioned the mural because "it's fun."

"It's a creative outlet for the gallery and for the artists who work with the gallery like (Stephens)," he said. "As a gallery, our role is to support the arts, particularly as we represent local artists. The gallery is always looking for an opportunity to showcase artists' work."

Back when the Leader interviewed Stephens in late August about this mural and his art career in general, he said he wished more downtown Oxford business owners would consider adding art to the backs of their buildings.

"I really think they should mix it up back here," he said. "They should be hiring artists to create cool art for them and get the young crowd in here. I think it would really perk up business and make Oxford a cool destination."

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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