A new open flag flutters on the corner of Free St. and Center St., residing over a series of floor to ceiling windows that reveal a labyrinth of walls studded with art. Antique chairs and couches gild the space and occasionally a man stands in the sunlight, serenely painting at an easel. On a refreshingly under-inhabited block barely outside the bustle of City Center, Roux and Cyr Fine Art Gallery offers a variety of artistic experiences.
After a well-attended soft opening on May 2nd Roux and Cyr has been delighting the public with a fresh presence of international realist art. Run by two working artists (one of which stands by the windows to paint), the gallery has been meticulously designed to display art from Auburn to Ireland. It features a series of half-wall structures forming cubbies of art, each devoted to one of the twenty-eight artists the gallery represents. Even on a busy day the individual spaces allow for a delightfully intimate viewing experience, and the chairs, couches and teacups offered for refreshment give the entire space an air of comfort. Light from outside pours in from the windows and it’s easy to get distracted with a variety of works on display. Visitors go from the whimsical impressionist ballerinas of Susan Smolensky to Leah Lopez’s sparkling still lives, continuing through to a fantastic figure painting by Mat Grogan perched on a table by the windows.
The proprietor, Susan Roux, radiates passion for her craft. She eagerly explains her own artistic journey and waxes lyrical speaking about her time in Europe, where she met Grogan, among others. Enamored by the architecture and history found in cities abroad, she lauds the “constant exposure to fantastic art.” After deciding to open an international gallery, she hand picked artists from around the world, freely contacting whoever matched her vision. The result is a collection of beautiful and diverse realist work with a distinctly European sensibility, even from the American artists. Exhibits featuring artists from the gallery will open on the last Saturday of every month, and rotate on a monthly basis.
Roux’s evident passion and excitement for spreading her love of the arts fits perfectly into her plan to present Roux and Cyr as both an art gallery and a learning space. A dedicated painting instructor, Roux offers classes in the back room of the gallery, workshops taught by artists the gallery represents, and school programming. Pre-planned activities get the students painting and private openings in the gallery allow families and friends to see what the students create. The first school group’s work is hanging in the back room and will be on display for Roux and Cyr’s Grand Opening on May 24th. The Grand Opening will prominently feature the work of Russian Impressionist Stas Borodin, followed next month by the work of local artists Dennis Perrin and Sally Ladd Cole. It will run from 5:30 to 8:30, and is a great opportunity to meet Borodin, Roux and her partner, Paul Cyr, and see some of the finest art recently arrived in Portland.