The first time I saw Grace Howl’s artwork was when my husband had an office in the Hub building on Fruitville. I was in the lobby and noticed several paintings I hadn’t seen before. The colorful, abstract canvases caught my attention in a way that other art installations had not.
I love Grace’s paintings because of her bold use of color, weathered collage elements and layered surfaces. Her work has been described as strong, powerful, intriguing, vivid and unique. I totally agree! I’m a big fan and was happy to hear that Grace had her own gallery space just north of downtown Sarasota at 1235 15th Street.
Grace moved into her gallery about a month ago. Currently the gallery has ‘by appointment only’ hours but that may change in the future. I met Grace at the gallery and we chatted about her artwork and the new space.
When did you start painting?
I bought some paints in 2003 thinking it would be fun to try to draw or paint. But I worked long hours as vice president for a commercial real estate company handling property management, renovations, leasing negotiations and business development, so didn’t really have time to do anything. I was very left brain, numeric, legal, logical and verbal. My profession was my life. Then in 2007, after a car accident that really jostled my brain, a moment that changed my life forever, I changed inside and out. It sent me on a new path. The doctors suggested I do something to help my brain heal. I started painting as a way of communicating. It became my language when words failed me which was frequently. I had to take lots of naps and did a lot of day dreaming. When I looked at things or closed my eyes, I would see colors and images instead of words. So I started to paint. It was another life changing experience for me. Creating art has literally saved me mentally and emotionally. It has been and continues to be a great healing experience for me. It is like something inside of me needs to get out.
What’s your favorite medium?
I work mostly with acrylic based and environmentally friendly products. I’m very sensitive to aromas so they are best for me, the environment and my clients.
Describe your style.
Abstract art is my love and language. I prefer modern and contemporary abstract as a style. My philosophy is that abstract art is without context. It doesn’t have to be explained. It simply is: as I have learned to be.
I have come to appreciate there is an interconnectedness with life and art. Perhaps looking at my work is like beginning a journey to an unknown destination. For viewers to look at it through their own eyes and life experience and see thoughts transformed, the capturing of a mood or emotion with color, movement and opening of your mind to a new way of thinking.
My paintings are very intuitive. I tend to get bored easily and so rotating what I work on keeps me having fun and the creative juices flowing. Sometimes I think about a concept, other times, I just start by putting a bold color on the canvas and go from there not knowing where it will lead me.
What prompted you to get your own gallery space?
I had a number of people asking to see my work. My studio is okay for creating work, but not necessarily a place I’d want to showcase it. This space I’m in had been a gallery for the late Robert Gelinas, a professor at USF with works at the Ringling Museum and around the world, so it was an easy choice when the opportunity came up; and the owners of the building have been wonderful to work with.
What’s it like to be working in new gallery?
It has been a great experience to see my work in a professional, very contemporary setting with proper lighting. I’ve been told by numerous people including designers, clients, other artists and art appreciators that my work is strong, powerful and intriguing. So I was thrilled when this opportunity came up to have a small very contemporary boutique gallery space to showcase my work. I like the setting. The best part is the building – it’s very, very modern in design.
Why do your paintings fit in so well with modern decor?
I believe my art fits well into modern and contemporary settings because the strong combination of shapes, images and colors lend themselves to contemporary and modern décor. The compositions of my art are timeless, contemplative, strong and enduring. I tend to create large pieces that need big walls.
I have a wonderful designer friend, Dominick, who used to live here and moved back to Chicago. He helped place a large 9 foot by 5 foot piece of mine into a home he was helping design here. He always said good design is timeless and so is good art. He also taught me that art doesn’t have to match the décor. It should be captivating so you can sit and look at it over long periods of time and still be intrigued.
I recently sold and delivered two pieces of my large work for a very contemporary condo on the water. The owner visited the gallery and chose the pieces she wanted. They look magnificent, like they belonged there. I’m happy for my collector and she is thrilled with the pieces.
I have pieces of work at One Sarasota Tower, Chicago, and the United Kingdom. I work with designers, architects, collectors and art consultants and, of course, consumers.
Thank you so much Grace! For more information on Grace Howl Art, or to schedule a private or small group showing at the gallery, please call the number listed above or visit gracehowl.com.