Elizabeth Street studio/gallery reopens after renovation - Brownsville Herald: Business

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On Display Elizabeth Street studio/gallery reopens after renovation

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Posted: Thursday, October 31, 2013 10:07 pm

Puente Art Studio & Gallery aims to breathe a little more cultural life into the city, starting with Day of the Dead.

The studio/gallery, located at 741 E. Elizabeth St. downtown, is celebrating its grand reopening tonight and Saturday after a monthslong renovation that included, with the help of a facade-improvement grant from the city, a significant exterior makeover.

The free open house, taking place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and coinciding with Day of the Dead festivities, features works by several regional artists including the artist Puente, who moved into the space nearly four years ago, using it first as her personal painting studio then, with the encouragement of 409 Galleria owner Mark Clark, eventually adding the gallery.

Most of the artwork on display is for sale, including pieces by Puente, who bankrolls the studio/gallery along with her husband, Alejandro Lara, as a way of indulging their lifelong love of art, injecting Brownsville with an extra dose of culture and, especially, turning people onto art.

“A town without culture is nothing,” she said.

Renata Lara, Puente’s daughter and curator of the museum, said reopening after the renovation took a little longer than expected.

“Something always comes up, but we did finish,” she said. “Right now we’re waiting on our sign. But we’re ready, and Puente has always opened for Day of the Dead.”

The event also coincides with the 3rd Annual Brownsville “Art Crawl,” which Puente inaugurated along with the Carlotta Petrina Cultural Center. Also participating in that event are El Hueso de Fraile, the Historic Brownsville Museum, Maldonado Studio and the Old City Cemetery Museum, and Solis Studio at Casimiro Tamayo House.

Now that it’s open again, the studio/gallery plans to have events every month, Lara said. On Nov. 7 a group of volunteers will come to paint martini glasses for a Moody Clinic fundraiser, and later in the month the artists whose works are on display will appear in person to discuss their works.

Of course, the public is welcome to drop in anytime, Lara said.

She conceded that the gallery isn’t exactly a high-volume business.

“It’s a small market,” she said. “It’s a small group of people that enjoy having original art at their homes, but it is there.”

Social media and websites that offer prints for sale helps, Lara added.

“It opens up your market a lot more,” she said.

Mainly, though, it’s about spreading culture rather than making a fortune, Lara said.

Puente is especially passionate about reaching children through art and giving the region’s many talented artists a venue for their work.

“We have a lot of great artists,” she said. “We need more spaces for artists to show their art.”

Lara noted that the Puente studio/gallery’s evolution is part of a larger emerging art scene downtown and more art-centric options for children.

“It’s starting to grow, which is something really nice to see,” she said. “Several years ago you really didn’t have that. And it’s not just for a certain group of people, it’s for everybody.”

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