To get your artwork shown at the Gallery of the Unknown Artists, you don't need no fancy résumé or college degree. You don't even need a portfolio. You just need to stop by and let the owners, Ceci Weaver and John Grove (wife and husband), have a look-see. If they like your stuff, they'll hang it for up to 60 days.
You could be a full-time artist. Or you could be a nurse or a stockbroker who paints or sculpts on the side. You could even be homeless. "We once met this [presumably homeless] guy who painted Van Gogh copies to the T," Weaver says. "He smiled and said to call him Vinnie, and I was like, 'Yeah, right. You paint Vincent Van Goghs. '" She bought one for $20 and flipped it for a tidy profit. A nurturing type, she would like to commission him to make more paintings that she could sell, "but we can't find him."
As for the other artists Weaver represents... sure, there are some big names -- like Fernando Sucre -- but then there's Florin Szondi, a tae kwon do instructor from Transylvania who makes surreal paintings of women with what Weaver calls "an alien texture" to their skin. The gallery takes a 40 percent commission as opposed to the standard 50 percent and allows artists to use the space as a studio. "There's no pretentiousness in here," Weaver says.
In the 1990s, Grove helped open a similar gallery (of the same name) in Miami. He and Weaver, inspired by Hollywood's burgeoning art scene, decided that now was the time to revive it. It's open late, and plans are to host movie nights and poetry readings in the near future. "It's like a big family," Weaver says. "I'm the one that encourages all these artists to continue." If you see Vinnie around, give him a heads up.
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