Local art gallery displays abstract expressionism

Chelsey Smith is the featured artist at the Kieran-Sistrunk Fine Art Gallery. Andie Chilson | Reporter

Andie Chilson | Reporter

Abstract expressionism and collage artist Chesley Smith brings an eclectic body of work to Waco’s Kieran-Sistrunk Fine Art Gallery as its featured artist for February.

Smith’s work will be exhibited through Feb. 28 at the Kieran-Sistrunk Fine Art Gallery, located at 2120 Washington Ave.

“[Smith] found us,” Kieran-Sistrunk Fine Art Gallery co-owner Susan Sistrunk said. “He came walking in a few months ago and said, ‘How would you like to show my work here?’”

Mark Kieran, the other co-owner of the gallery, said they have never featured collage-style work like Smith’s in their gallery before.

“It’s really interesting stuff, it’s different than anything else we’ve showed in here,” Kieran said. “We’ve done abstract, we’ve done oil painting, we’ve done landscape artists … but it’s different because of the collage aspect.”

Smith said he draws inspiration from memories and music, particularly jazz. The abstract, varied nature of his work reflects his perception of jazz music.

“If I’m listening to smooth jazz, then the colors will be blues and greens, but if I’m listening to blues jazz, it gives me a different kind of inspiration,” Smith said.

“Proverbs have psalms and singing and things like that,” Smith said. “But my two main areas of interest are music and memories.”

In addition to drawing inspiration from his personal experiences and the music he listens to, Smith also said he likes to title a piece of art before starting it.

“The title directs the piece,” Smith said.

Kieran and Sistrunk saw the unique nature of Smith’s artistic approach and they wanted to give him a place to showcase his work to the Waco community.

The art exhibit’s purpose is to give such an opportunity to other artists in the Waco area and beyond who find it difficult to find a professional setting to exhibit their work.

“There’s a limited amount of availability for local artists to be able to showcase their work around here,” Kieran said.

“We enjoy giving a room every month to an artist to showcase and bring their friends and family and make it about them for an entire month,” Sistrunk said.

So far, Kieran and Sistrunk have featured 10 artists from Texas and Louisiana in the gallery, which has been open since March of last year. So far, the has duo has sold 60 original works – a great feat for a new local gallery, according to Sistrunk.

However, Kieran and Sistrunk are discerning about the artists they feature in their gallery.

“They have to have quality work, and they also have to have a body of work … and something that’s kind of cohesive in nature,” Kieran said.

In addition to a robust body of work, Kieran and Sistrunk also look for artists who know how to present their pieces well.

“Framing education is also good,” Sistrunk said. “If an artist knows how to frame and show their work, that helps a lot.”

Kieran and Sistrunk will exhibit Smith’s work in their gallery through February before they welcome a new artist in March. To learn more about the gallery, local Wacoans and Baylor students can check out the exhibit on Facebook.