The Art Gone Wild Gallery, 619 Duval St., finds itself fitting nicely on the street that is known for its diversity, quirky charm and entertainment. The owners, husband and wife, Lisa and D. Arthur, purposely chose Key West and the Duval Street location because they were impressed with the local art community, its growth and its reputation.
“Key West is an international destination,” D. Arthur said. “The art in this town is seen by international travelers, as well as Americans.”
“We estimate that on average 5,000 people walk by our gallery most days,” Lisa said. “The gallery receives good exposure and that’s one of the reasons we took this location when it became available.”
The couple said that since 2008, art galleries around the country have taken a hit as the economy slowed, but their studies of Key West indicated the island’s art market has remained one of the best around.
The couple is also thinking ahead and has plans to market Rhupert, an ostrich character that appears in a series of D. Arthur’s work. He already has a book available and the possibility of television exposure is being considered.
Rhupert is a metaphor of the whimsical and rather amusing lengths mankind goes to disguise his peculiar inward self, D. Arthur said. He said he hopes the character, with its curious expression, unlocks the heart with laughter and reminds the viewer to not take themselves too seriously— to loosen up, lighten up and be yourself.
D. Arthur also has a serious side to his art and it is seen in his large wildlife paintings. Moving from coast to coast as a quick sketch portrait artist allowed D. Arthur to explore the people and places that would eventually lead him to that first painting done in his definitive style: the inaugural tiger, up close and personal. The artist has created thousands of originals that have captured these exotic beasts.
D. Arthur uses European suede mat board with specific application of pastel, Conte’ crayon and charcoal for his wildlife art.
A highlight of the artist’s career came when he traveled to Africa for a five-week tour. The tour included 35 game drives and stays at the DeWildt Cheetah Research Center, Phinda Reserve, Linyanti River Camp, Chief’s Camp and hands on experience at Dr. Lori Markor’s Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia.
His perspective was transformed to new heights during his stay at the Cheetah Conservation Fund and he left his mark with several life size cheetah murals painted on the exterior walls of the visitor center.
Lisa describes herself as an abstract expressionist. Her works is rendered in oil, acrylic, sculpting medium and a multitude of color.
In 2008, Lisa was part of the Art Expo in New York. She showed up with 27 original works and when the expo ended, she had sold all of them.
Lisa also does glass painting, using the 17th century style.
“I paint on both side of the glass,” she said. “It creates depth to the work.”
She paints with acrylics, oils and enamels. Each painting is sculptured first with sculpting gel medium, followed by upwards of 20 layers of transparent and translucent paints.
When the artists decided on Key West, they went to other galleries that displayed their work and retrieved it, leaving Art Gone Wild as the only location showing their paintings now.
On display in the gallery is work by both artists as well as the works of Danny Reece, Doug Bloodworth, Jeff Zachmann and Chad Awalt.
For more information, go to www.artgonewildgallery.com.