Wedged between a roofing store and dozens of condo construction projects in Delray Beach, Florida's up-and-coming entertainment district, sits a sparkling oasis in the form of an art gallery. The industrial chic space stands out from the eyesore of its temporary surrounding neighbors; an amalgamation of half-built buildings, dirt piles and hardcore pick-ups that progress has brought to the recently revitalized Florida community.
Founded by entrepreneur, photographer and painter Kevin Rouse, known to most as just "Kevro," the gallery space may have been overlooked if it wasn't for the artist's vision. Kevro patiently sifted through brush, debris, rats and bugs to create a sanctuary for Delray's artists in search of refuge from the commotion of the real world and nearby hopping Atlantic Avenue. The project is an ambitious one for sure, an idealist notion not unlike the institution created by ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov in Manhattan for dancers and artists to come together under one roof. But Kevro will be serving drinks there to pay the bills.
After renting studio space for six years across the street in the Northeast section of Delray's hip Pineapple Grove block, he purchased the dilapidated convenience store, former plumber’s headquarters and its large adjacent outside patio on Second Avenue's southeast side. At first, the property seemed uninhabitable with demolition a most-certain fate. "Everything around it was being knocked down," Kevro said. If this was someone's dream come true, it was certainly disguised.
"It looked like the set of Sanford and Son. A variable junkyard," he added. Then again, Kevro has always been able to see the potential in something, whether investigating an emerging design software, experimenting with lasers and fractals, or creating art for billboards, stage design, posters and banners. In just a few months, the artist and his fiancée, the writer and artist Deb Sullivan, converted the lot into a sleek South Beach-style gallery created as a meeting place and working studio for the beach’s bustling artist community.
To help pay for their project and the bills, the couple plan to open an art bar there by May 2007 and have already gained the necessary permits to sell wine and beer, while continuing to sell Kevro's pieces. On the day after Christmas, a pony-tail clad Kevro in jeans and a lime-green polo shirt arrived at the studio with his fiancée to continue their work in progress.
"It had good bones, so we went from there," said Sullivan, also in jeans and a polo shirt, painting the walls from the top of a ladder.GICLEE' TECHNIQUE DISCOVERED
In the meantime, Kevro's own work, which has received many accolades, hangs on the walls displaying his unique talent for using the giclee printing technique. An award-winning photographer, computer art therapist and Photoshop expert, one day he discovered Giclee' when he tried the process to document his original paintings. Through his canvas supplier, he learned that musician Graham Nash, of the band Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, was an aficionado of the technique and gave him a call. Kevro soon discovered how great it worked with photography.
"Nash is really great at the technique. He was one of the first to use it in the northeast. I may have been the first in the southeast to try it," said Kevro. Giclee´, pronounced(zhee-clay) is a French term, in this case meaning, "spray of ink" that creates museum quality, limited edition prints. The printers use continuous tone technology in which infinitely small pixels of color are capable of rendering a smooth and consistent image, to mirror the artists original oil painting, watercolor, photograph or digital art. The substrate, in this case canvas, is affixed to a drum, and as the drum rotates at a very high speed, individual droplets of color are sprayed on to the surface at a rate of 4-5 million droplets per second. Once completed, a 34" x 46" image is comprised of almost 20 billion droplets of ink. In this process, Kevro uses pigmented inks.
The apparent resolution of the digital print is 1,800 dots per inch, which is higher than a traditional lithographic print and has a wider range of color than serigraphy. Giclee' prints render deep saturated colors and have a beautiful painterly quality that retains minute detail, subtle tints and blends. The process lend itself to museum-style pieces of landscapes, which Kevros does. The two seem made for each other.
Besides a Canon 11-megapixel digital camera, the photographer uses an old metal Cambo large-format model with Ektakrome slide film and prefers his pieces unframed, image gallery wrapped. Substrates on Kevro's list include canvas, 3M pet gloss acetate, jeans and silk. A printmaker since 1990, formerly of the MultiImage Group, Kevro said gallery ownership has finally allowed him to "make 20 years of thoughts happen."
Cleaner than a lithograph, serigraph and other printing processes, Giclee' allows an artist to market work in a less expensive, more efficient way and to keep original works of art. "It's an embellishment of the original and allows you to see the feelings of the piece. This is something you cannot get with just film. What you lose in contrast you gain in other components," said Kevro.
In addition to the front art gallery, a back building houses a photo, art and filmmaking studio and editing suite. Between the front and the back of the building sits a large outdoor patio for painting and sculpture. They plan to bring in live bands to play outside, install plasmas inside the gallery and set up a funky surveillance camera system so patrons can keep their eyes on everything.
"This is my largest canvas to date," said Kevro of the project. When will it be completed? The couple are a free flow of ideas.
"Art is not finished until the artist says it is," said Sullivan, smiling.
To learn more, contact the gallery at Kevroart@aol.com or (561) 274-0007.