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Local photographer opens Cambria gallery to promote Central Coast artists with a new group show every season 

There's a new gallery in town.

The Cambria Gallery of Art, situated off of Main Street in Cambria, celebrated its first show on Feb. 15. It's located inside a historic space, in what was once a Hearst Ranch schoolhouse, gallery owner Roger Cantrell said.

Centered on a motto of "spirited Central Coast art in a country schoolhouse setting," Cantrell plans to put out a new group exhibit in his gallery for each season, with the current Winter Show up through the end of March.

click to enlarge FEATURED Kurt Waldo, a featured artist in Cambria Gallery of Art's Winter Show, sits in front of a few of his pieces he calls "abstract expressionism." - PHOTO BY MALEA MARTIN
  • Photo By Malea Martin
  • FEATURED Kurt Waldo, a featured artist in Cambria Gallery of Art's Winter Show, sits in front of a few of his pieces he calls "abstract expressionism."

Cantrell first found himself interacting with the art industry through his own work as a photographer. Focusing on automobile photography, Cantrell's images give a fresh perspective to cars by taking his pictures from behind the wheel, allowing the viewer to "drive into the scene from that car." Cantrell's photos are on permanent display in a nook of Cambria Gallery of Art.

Originally a Southern California resident, Cantrell's love for photographic art led to a passion for representing artists, and he soon found himself running a gallery in Laguna Beach with the help of Virga Siauciunaite, a fellow artist who Cantrell said taught him the ins and outs of owning a gallery.

After moving to the Central Coast in September 2018, Cantrell saw a promising opportunity to do something similar in Cambria. To honor the art and mentorship of Siauciunaite, Cantrell decided to give a few of her pieces a permanent spot in his gallery. Her work, along with paintings from Ilona Peteris and Nancy Roberts, make up the permanent exhibit tucked into another corner.

Cambria Gallery of Art is remarkable in its ability to fit a variety of paintings and artists into a small space. In addition to his own photography and the three permanent artists, Cantrell's Winter Show features the work of local painters Donald Archer, Jordan Quintero, and Kurt Waldo. But even with seven artists' works in the cozy, historic building, the space maintains a flow that feels balanced and purposeful. One artist's work plays off the next, and the result is something effortlessly cohesive, despite the exhibit having no explicit theme.

click to enlarge HISTORIC FOUNDATIONS Roger Cantrell's new Cambria gallery is located inside a historic schoolhouse building. - PHOTO COURTESY OF ROGER CANTRELL
  • Photo Courtesy Of Roger Cantrell
  • HISTORIC FOUNDATIONS Roger Cantrell's new Cambria gallery is located inside a historic schoolhouse building.

"I like people to just look at art and understand it at their own level, rather than try to fit into some sort of explanation or title," Cantrell said of what he's curated.

Waldo, one of the artists in the Winter Show, has a similar approach to his own art.

"Most of my titles are dates because I don't want to tell the people what I see in it," Waldo said of his abstract expressionist paintings.

In general, Waldo said his work is influenced by landscapes, or as he puts it, "a frozen moment."

His landscape-inspired paintings fit well into the group show, as Archer's and Quintero's pieces also tend to depict natural environments. Many of them are locally inspired by the ocean or hill scenes.

Archer metaphorically compares his abstract landscapes—colorful oil paintings with a vaguely graphic quality about them—to "a contrail about an airplane."

"What you're seeing is just this pentimento or a cloud of where I've been and where I'm going," Archer said. "I consider what I do as a product of how I'm living."

Quintero, the final artist represented in the Winter Show, provides a balance between Waldo's and Archer's bright colors, with his earthier tones. He uses unique wooden canvases to bring a natural element to his work, along with opting for a more neutral color palette. But because he also works with landscapes, Quintero's pieces fit in with the other featured artists, giving an overall unity to the show.

For Cantrell, the new space is all about giving more opportunities to local artists.

"I don't need that much space," Cantrell said of the gallery. "I love giving a showcase to these deserving artists." Δ

Arts Writer Malea Martin is always rooting for local artists. Send arts story tips through Associate Editor Peter Johnson at pjohnson@newtimesslo.com.

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