A fresh new art gallery has just hopped into an industrial-chic, 2,000-square-foot warehouse space in the increasingly hip and art-centric neighborhood of The Heights. Friday, May 31 was the premiere reception for Jack Rabbit Gallery, and I was lucky enough to get the chance to venture down the rabbit hole and get all of the new details on the nascent space.
The owners of the gallery, James and Jodi Grogan, are practicing attorneys turn gallery owners who are no stranger to the art demesne. The attorneys, one equipped with an art history degree and the other with a degree in studio art, have a clear passion for the arts, a passion that they have passed down through their family. For the Grogans, art is a family business.
Gallery operations at Jack Rabbit Gallery are aided by daughter and curator Hali Grogan, a graduate from the Art Students League in New York City, who makes her Houston curatorial debut with the new gallery. The family has worked together tirelessly over the past year to create a gallery that offers a diverse range of representation in the art they have chosen to feature in the space, which includes work from both emerging to mid-career artists of regional and international notoriety.
“Every artwork at Jack Rabbit Gallery is something that one of us connected to and wanted to acquire ourselves if we could,” says Hali, the youngest of the Grogan clan. ” I grew up watching my mom curate our home into something beautiful, warm and welcoming, and so it simply is a part of me.”
What has me sold on the new space is the gallery’s ability to accommodate all budgets, making art affordable for both aspiring and seasoned patrons. Home to a sliding price scale, services rendered by the gallery include customized framing, art advisory, consultation, and even event hosting.
The bevy of people lured to the opening of the new space feasted on free popsicles, supped on booze, and passed trays of hors d’oeuvres as Bob Ross videos played on screens around the space and provided a lighthearted reminder to all that art doesn’t have to be fast and serious all of the time.
Roughly 100 works created by over 15 artists were displayed throughout the space during the opening, which sported a youthful and relaxed ambience. I’m appreciative of the thoughtful curation of the space and of how the curator grouped disparate styles of paintings together to create unusual yet pleasing pairings. This curatorial decision was risky and could have led to conflicting messages being relayed to patrons, but in this instance it worked and imbued the space with a lively and playful aura.
The range of artwork featured in the opening, while not exhibiting a cohesive thematic order, was perfectly representative of the array of talented artists the gallery chose to feature in the exhibition. The abstract, mixed media floral-scapes from Mark Whitmarsh boasted an authoritative understanding in color theory. Also in abundance were refined watercolor and pen works on paper by local artist Jill Hakala that were complimented perfectly by the monochromatic and minimalist pop-art-esque dot matrix works by artist Spoon.
“We looked for artists who are producing investment-grade art,” says Hali Grogan on the artist selection process for the opening. “We also only approached artists that are not currently represented by another gallery in Houston.”
This ultra-practical and savantish application of curatorial discretion means you can expect to see only the freshest of artists featured in the new space.
Judging on the success of the opening, I think it’s very safe to say that Jack Rabbit is off to a good start and will quickly become an art hotspot for the Heights neighborhood.
Welcome home Jack Rabbit Gallery! Yours is a rabbit hole that we’d very much like to jump down again.