Art@231 Studio & Gallery
By YP Contributor

The Attraction of Artists

Elena Espinoza was instinctually drawn to the talent of graphic designer John Cinquemani when the artists' village co-op she belonged to commissioned him to design a logo years ago. Now partners in life and business, the pair's gallery Art@231, which opened in November 2014, is the culmination of their commitment to craft.

With bold blocks of coloured canvasses lining an adjacent corridor, and autumnal crimsons of a sunset cityscape painted by a local artist in the background, the duo's warm hospitality to fellow artists and curiosity seekers alike stems from their own experiences in the art world.

Specializing in editorial illustration and graphic design after graduating from Sheridan College, John taught in Italy before moving to Toronto to work in art direction for a film company. It was painting his grandmother's portrait that made him aware of his skills in oil painting. His painting style, which he describes as "figurative representative oils with a touch of illustration," complement his pop-up graphic art and were what attracted Elena. "I loved John's work," Elena says of their initial encounter.

Specializing in drawing and painting with a degree from OCAD, Elena's acrylic paintings, which focus on expressionism, Canadian landscapes and textures, have evolved since her first drawings of Peanuts characters as a child. Working at the Art Gallery of Burlington teaching children art, Elena's work has been showcased throughout Southwestern Ontario and her experience has proven invaluable as Art@231's manager.

We're not your typical gallery. We're a beacon for established and emerging artists offering an open-ended approach that works with artists to further their careers. - John Cinquemani, co-owner and artist
Art@231 Studio & Gallery - Fine art, custom art, illustration, graphic design services from Vector House Art & Design Studio, art classes and workshops, gallery rental options for exhibitions, rental space, art commissions, art rentals, rent-to-own art plans, installment plans, promotional packages
Artists John Cinquemani and Elena Espinoza pose in their gallery space, Art@231. Photo by Vivian Khouw.

An Atypical Art Gallery

"We're not your typical gallery. We're a beacon for established and emerging artists offering an open-ended approach that works with artists to further their careers," John states of Art@231's objective to offer a creative multi-purpose space. Whether that is inclusively welcoming local and surrounding artists regardless of their pedigree, or providing options for artists including fee, rental or commission-based agreements and group shows, while offering rentals and rent-to-own options for customers, the pair strive to keep art accessible for artists and burgeoning aficionados alike.

With Art@231 doubling as a community hub, John and Elena foster an approachable environment that minimizes the intimidation factor often associated with galleries. "Many people don't know what to do in a gallery. They don't know how to act," John explains. "We're unpretentious. We want to be a home open to all people to share ideas, inspire and help one another while encouraging dialogue and mingling," Elena says. Striving to offer an alternative, John emphasizes that Art@231 is a constant work in progress. "We learn from artists, value their opinions but also offer our expertise," John notes.

Art@231 Studio & Gallery - Fine art, custom art, illustration, graphic design services from Vector House Art & Design Studio, art classes and workshops, gallery rental options for exhibitions, rental space, art commissions, art rentals, rent-to-own art plans, installment plans, promotional packages
The spacious gallery offers new exhibits featuring local artists. Photo by Vivian Khouw.

The Purity of Reaction

"Art is having the freedom to express yourself. It's reading a different language," Elena says as she speaks of her inspiration from the 1960s French-Canadian artists Les Automatiques. "It's the experience, the process of how hand and mind and colours meld," John explains as he likens art to the storytelling of Rockwell, Dix and Gotto, and the dreamlike depictions typical of Cézanne.

Ultimately, the pair believe that art epitomizes ideals of creation and feeling because it can initiate an emotional and visceral reaction. "We want people to respond, react to and experience a connection with what they view," Elena explains of how they select material to showcase.

“Art is a way of seeing life," Elena smiles as John squeezes her hand. With open minds and creative spirits, John and Elena are transforming the nexus between art, life and the gradations of living into a meaningful artistic experience.

Art@231 Studio & Gallery - Fine art, custom art, illustration, graphic design services from Vector House Art & Design Studio, art classes and workshops, gallery rental options for exhibitions, rental space, art commissions, art rentals, rent-to-own art plans, installment plans, promotional packages
Peer through the window of Art@231 to see what artists John and Elena are featuring. Photo by John Cinquemani.
Close menu
Subscribe to YP Newsletter