Art Rhymes with Heart

Slate Gray Gallery is near and dear to founder/owner Beth McLaughlin

By KIMBERLY GILES
Photos by ROBERT G. GOMEZ

Beth McLaughlin is not the typical gallerist. She does not come from a family of dealers or artists. But she is an entrepreneur and philanthropist committed to promoting the arts and giving back to her community.

The inspiration behind Slate Gray Gallery in Kerrville launched more than 20 years ago when McLaughlin began visiting the Hill Country on weekend getaways from Austin. She was inspired by the natural beauty and the relaxed, artsy vibe. McLaughlin has since made the Kerrville area her permanent home and she splits her time between a second gallery location in Telluride, Colorado.

What is important for her is engaging and promoting the work of local and regional creatives, alongside the international artists. Currently Slate Gray Gallery represents about 40 local artists between the two regions in an effort for them to continue to live and create in the places they love. “I like what I like and I hope you do too,” she said.

“It’s important to promote and connect local artists with patrons and art enthusiasts and give our artists a home to display and sell their art,” McLaughlin said. “The flip side to this is that we have become a renowned destination for collectors to find the best talent that the Hill Country has to offer. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

Giving back
Although her Telluride gallery location features a selection of works that are more abstract and contemporary in style, her Kerrville location features both traditional realism and contemporary pieces. Both galleries opened in 2015. The Kerrville location was the first and the impetus was two-fold to promote her “friends, fellow artisans” and to assist in revitalizing Kerrville’s historic downtown.

Projects McLaughlin has spearheaded in Kerrville, other than her gallery, include opening the Schreiner Goods with then business partner Keri Kropp, and the recent restoration of the historic landmark Guthrie Building. She is serves on the nonprofit board for “Arcadia Live,” which will direct the re-opening of the Arcadia Theater to the public (after 30 years of dormancy) as an event and live music venue.

McLaughlin said it is important for Slate Gray Gallery in both locations to reinvest back into their communities and support arts-based nonprofits.

We asked McLaughlin to share why she loves and creates space for these particular four artists.

Carol Arnold began working in pastels and expanded into oils over the past year. She is inspired by nature and is an avid traveler around Texas. “Carol just keeps getting better,” McLaughlin said. “Everyone wants to own a Carol.”

Karen Freeman is originally from Kerrville but had a long stint in Manhattan as an architectural designer. Freeman’s abstract expressionist works are mixed media that are rich with organic and architectural structure. “Karen’s wide variety of sizes and gorgeous colorations make her a favorite for interior designers and architects,” McLaughlin said.
John Self is a found-object sculptor who is collected all over the country. “John is the most creative, quirky and funniest artist on deck,” McLaughlin said. “His work is exceptionally crafted and never ceases to amaze.” Self scours estate and garage sales to source his endless need for unique parts that he can craft into sculpture. A great amount of storytelling and self-expression is nurtured by McLaughlin and her staff. “We have a gorgeous historic downtown and a long history of arts appreciation here in Kerrville that we are thrilled to be a part of,” she said.
Katherine Lott is one of McLaughlin’s longest-standing artists – the gallery was originally created for her – and a friend. Lott works in oils, cold wax, and metallic leaf. “They are simply peaceful and beautiful, and you can feel her depth of soul through each of her varied works,” McLaughlin said. Lott is also a holistic practitioner and has strong connections to the Native American heritage.
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