Posted on Sun, Jul. 18, 2004

ROVING GALLERY

The monthly art trail attracts locals and tourists to Grapevine and Colleyville

By Terry Lee Goodrich

Star-Telegram Staff Writer


GRAPEVINE - Beret jauntily in place, artist Francois Arenas ushers visitors into his House of Colors Art School & Gallery.

It's the fourth Friday in June -- monthly Gallery Night -- and guests admire images of the Eiffel Tower, pat handmade bears and exclaim over quilt art. Then they head outside to hear live music, sip wine and nibble cheese at tables with colorful umbrellas.

This is just one stop on a free arts trail of 11 Grapevine galleries and one in Colleyville.

The businesses sell paintings, pottery, sculpture, blown glass -- even fossil art.

Some galleries feature artist demonstrations, poetry readings and live music. Some even offer free margaritas, champagne and/or chocolate.

"It's been a complete joy," said visitor Jaime Linesch of Euless.

Gallery owners and artists say the monthly Gallery Night, which began in February, showcases a growing arts community and is attracting locals and tourists.

Organizer Betty Hansen-Tracy, owner/manager of Mud, Wind & Fire Art Gallery, said some of its artists hatched the idea after visiting gallery nights in other states.

"We decided a gallery night was something we really needed to do here," she said. "Our galleries are all friends, and we're all pulling together. My vision is that in two years this will become a Grapevine-Colleyville-Southlake Gallery Night."

The trail is a small-town version of Fort Worth's semiannual Gallery Night, which began in the late 1970s with a handful of galleries and today attracts thousands of visitors to about 25 galleries, former coordinator Pam Campbell said.

While some of Grapevine's galleries have been open many years, a handful have opened in the past year, Hansen-Tracy said. Many are within walking distance of one another. To qualify for the trail, a business must sell original art, although some emphasize other items. Artists share brochure costs and do not require guests to register, Hansen-Tracy said.

Campbell, who organized the Fort Worth arts event for several years, praised Northeast Tarrant County's effort.

"It's important that more people become aware of art and develop a good eye for it," she said. "I think this is great."

Lewisville artist Kathy Kromer agrees. A newcomer to Gallery Night, she exhibited last month at Grapevine's Blue Moon Gallery.

"This is ambitious, but people are coming," Kromer said. The evening paid off: She sold a vivid $950 painting depicting a guitar and keyboards.

Many visitors discover Gallery Night by chance.

"This is our first one, but it's a great idea," said Jim White of Bedford, touring with his wife, Tammy. "We were just out wandering, but we have a new house and we're looking for things for it."

Other people come with a goal. Metta Roach of Flower Mound, a Kromer fan, was the customer who sought out the $950 painting as a gift for her musician son.

"He was over-his-head thrilled," she said later.

Jeff and Terri Pereson, arts lovers who left professions in other fields and opened the Blue Moon Gallery in May, say they are delighted with the blossoming arts community and Gallery Night.

"With a growing population and things like Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center bringing in more tourists, I see us doing even more arts events," Terri Pereson said. "I can't help but see this growing."