By Sarah Tackett
Lexington’s prestigious Cross Gate Gallery is opening its doors to host the first American exhibition for the New English Arts Club, this Friday March 4th. The gala evening celebrates the gallery’s 30th anniversary, and will also include a charity auction of paintings and other work from the gallery’s in the house artists. All proceeds of the auction will benefit The Lexington Foundation in its efforts concerning cancer research and commitment to the improvement of healthcare considering such patients.
Gallery owner Greg Ladd explains the inspiration behind this upcoming event stating, “I submit that if a man is lucky enough to stay in business and make a living doing what he loves, then he should try to give back to those who have helped him along the way. So with that in mind, I searched for some meaningful way to commemorate my anniversary, while at the same time honoring the friends, neighbors and relatives who have encouraged me. The obvious choice for me is the Lexington Foundation.”
Ladd continues, “We have all been touched by this dreadful disease, and there could be no better way to show those we love how much we care than to put the resources in the hands of this worthwhile organization.”
After 23 years Cross Gate Gallery moved from its original High Street location to the grand elegance of the pink building on East Main Street, the former home of Zee Faulkner Antiques. The building itself is reminiscent of European galleries, it is spacious and formal, with wide open rooms, tall windows and a courtyard complete with tea roses. After spending the afternoon there I decided beautiful—yes, pretentious—not so much. Something about the gallery retains a level of comfort that overrides the “not for touching” attitude that usually permeates these kinds of places. Maybe it is the casual friendliness of Ladd and his staff, or the fact that it is a house after all, but the setting provides an easy and aesthetically pleasing atmosphere to view Cross Gate’s specialized tradition of Sporting Art. Lexington, despite the formidable billboards, is still the Horse Capital of the World, and Cross Gate captures that history with its homage to equine art such as horse racing and fox hunting. Although this gallery has a hometown feel, it is important to note that it is an international contender when it comes to this industry. Their mission states, “Our location in Central Kentucky…has made it natural for us to focus on Equine Art. We show the very best work by the top artists working in Europe and America. From a Sporting Artists’ standpoint, there is a no better place in the world to show your work than in the Bluegrass and in the presence of other recognized leaders in the field.” Cross Gate’s customers include Keeneland, Fasig-Tipton, and Breeders’ Cup, Ltd., as well as many other equine organizations.
The gallery’s outstanding reputation allows it to become a venue for exhibits such as the one this Friday. The New English Art Club (NEAC), which is considered by some to be second only the Royal Academy in prestige and reputation, will present 120 original paintings that depict still lifes, landscapes and figure studies. The NEAC emerged in 1886 from their Impressionistic influenced exhibit that broke away from the formal structured style of the Royal Academy. Thomas Coates, the president of the society will travel from England to be present for the opening. Ladd admits, “We are thrilled to be the first and only venue outside of England to ever host an exhibition of this group’s work.”
Coates is also donating a piece to the live auction, along with other artists such as Valeri Gridnev, Valerie Hinz, Peter Howell, Alexa King, Katherine Landikusic, Sandra Oppegard, Andre Pater, Ellen Skidmore, Gloria Thomas, and Larry Wheeler. You may view the donated works at www.crossgategallery.com, and if unable to attend, place your bid by contacting (859) 233-3856.
The opening reception begins this Friday at 6:00pm at 509 East Main Street. The event is open to both big time bidders and citizens—like me—who keep their hands securely fastened in their pockets during all auctioneering while they enjoy the paintings, and dabble in some wine and cheese. Plus, I want to be able to see my favorite of the group, the painting of the steer, in order to satisfy my peculiar enthusiasm for cows—particularly Herefords.