Today we’d like to introduce you to David Arsenault.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was born in upstate New York, and was first excited about art in 1970 when I discovered a reproduction of artist Edward Hopper’s painting “Gas” in a grade school library book.
However, I essentially forgot about it until the early ‘90s—more than twenty years later—but thankfully a professor in my graphic arts program reintroduced me to Hopper’s work. It was then that I felt compelled to study painting. His powerful, light-filled, and deeply personal paintings communicated something that really made me feel connected. Ultimately, I became an artist myself. The early influence had its effect on me to the degree that The Wall Street Journal once wrote that “Some of Mr. Arsenault’s paintings could pass for works by Edward Hopper.”
I studied painting at the University at Albany (NY). Since I first began showing my work in 1993 (the same year I began my studies, at age 35) I’ve participated in hundreds of local, regional, and national exhibitions: in New York City, Chicago, Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, and in Vermont, Connecticut, throughout upstate New York, and since 2014 in Rockport MA. I’ve also served as an exhibition juror, conducted painting demonstrations and critiques, and published articles.
My wife, Rev. Sue Koehler-Arsenault, and I relocated to the seaside town of Rockport, Massachusetts in November 2014 with the goal of opening a gallery the following year. But it was in August of 2013 (while in the midst of a 5-year anniversary trip to Cape Ann) that we began to imagine new possibilities for ourselves. In the Spring of 2014, new choices and new opportunities were suddenly on the table, and we decided that it was time: we marketed and sold our home, and packed our belongings—all while Sue underwent knee surgery and I reassembled my studio to film a PBS segment for the local affiliate! We finally headed to Rockport in November. Once there, all that remained was to find a gallery space, and in February, we did: the very first gallery space we had ever visited in town!
On March 27, 2015 The Art of David Arsenault Gallery opened on Rockport’s Bearskin Neck. It was a great first year, with one of the highlights being our meeting and selling art to British Grammy-winning singer Sam Smith (http://people.com/celebrity/sam-smith-vocal-cord-surgery-singer-returns-to-boston-before-u-s-tour/).
I was juried into the renowned Rockport Art Association & Museum in early 2016. The Art of David Arsenault Gallery relocated to its current address at 8 Dock Square in Rockport on December 1, 2016. Housed in an historic 1740 building, it’s also a working studio where you can meet me and also experience my unique and iconic Cape Ann places in colorful, drama-and-light filled oil paintings and fine art prints. My work is found in private and corporate collections all across the United States, as well as around the world.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Like all things in life regardless of how “good” or “bad” we think they will be—and after twenty years of waiting I expected GREAT!—this experience has produced both the expected and unexpected. It’s easy and satisfying to make and sell my art, and a privilege to receive so many gracious comments from people who come to Rockport from all around the world. And challenges vary by season: in the summer it can be difficult to have enough time to create new work; also, Sue and I have wrestled with how many hours to keep the gallery open. Early on we erred on the side of too many for us—and we paid a price. Other struggles may include: language barriers; inventory management (for such items as giclée prints): an active shipping schedule; and the seasonal nature of visitors to Rockport. We’re getting better at most of them, and we’re more realistic about the resort aspects of our town.
The winter offers plenty of time to paint but a dearth of visitors to Rockport. The latter creates a challenge in finance management, something that is likely leading to exploring opportunities like exhibiting at art fairs and showing in other galleries in the near future.
Please tell us about The Art of David Arsenault.
I’m an oil painter as I have been for nearly 23 years. My work is very realistic: many details often make their way into a scene. The goal, though, is not to get you to focus on specifics as it is to see and feel the play of LIGHT across the surface of objects, both natural and manmade. I don’t use a lot of paint, opting instead for 3-4 thin layers so that brush marks are not very noticeable. If I’ve done my job well, even if you have never been to the place in the painting, you’ll feel as if you’re in that space just the same. The best of my art provides a sense of peace as you witness a moment of time bathed in spectacular, transformative light.
You won’t feel like you’re looking at a painting, but rather that you’re having an experience. The combination of using light and detail-heavy realism to connect to viewers is unique. And making my art available in canvas giclée prints opens the door for art lovers of all income levels and wall sizes to bring home something they love. Our visitors seem to enjoy the peaceful, jazz-infused environment we’ve created here, and we make sure they know we appreciate their visit—whether they buy or not.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Well, on one level I would have studied art right out of high school. But that would have changed EVERYTHING, wouldn’t it? Given that, I wouldn’t change a thing, except to maybe have more innate adaptability to sudden changes and have more natural “business instincts.” But between Sue and I, we’ve learned along the way (sometimes by making mistakes) and we’ve worked hard at becoming a known gallery in Rockport and on the North Shore. There’s a lot more work ahead, but we feel more prepared than ever to meet new challenges, and being focused on putting out consistently strong work is an important aspect of that.
- Original oils: from $650 to $7000
- Giclée prints on canvas: from $85 to $500 (unframed)
- Address: 8 Dock Square, Rockport, MA 01966
- Website: www.artofdavid.com (online since 1998!)
- Phone: 518-466-9093 (David’s cell)
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/artofdavidarsenault
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/David.Arsenault.Painter
© David Arsenault