galleries today can lay claim to being in business long enough
to see painting and buying trends change, but November marks
the 20th anniversary of the Waterhouse Gallery, which has seen
many styles pass in and out of vogue. Diane Waterhouse, co-owner
of the gallery, says: "When we started in 1984, Realism
was extremely popular, and the looser plein-air works were overlooked.
We were lovers of the early plein-air movement and took in artwork
from young and aspiring plein-air painters, giving them a venue
when a lot of galleries had not yet discovered the beauty of
plein air painting."
Waterhouse has no formal
training in art, but she grew up with a father who was a portrait
artist. She is a trustee of the Santa Barbara Historical Society
and a board member of Santa Barbara Beautiful.
Her husband and partner, Ralph Waterhouse, was formally trained
in England as a graphic artist and has been painting for the
last 30 years. He has always operated an artist-owned gallery,
including one in the Lake District (Ambleside, England) for eight
years. When he moved to the United States, it was natural to
continue the tradition. In November 1984, the Waterhouse Gallery
opened its doors. Ralph is currently chairman of the California
Art Club/ Santa Barbara Region and is president of the Santa
Barbara Art Dealers Association.
| Diane is responsible for finding new
talent, conducting sales part-time, and handling most of the
installation and display of works. Regarding her partner, says
Diane: "Being a plein-air painter himself, Ralph understands
the complexities and the immediacy of outdoor painting. It is
satisfying and invigorating to produce work on location, [and
this is] reflected in the paintings. Clients respond to this
without necessarily realizing or understanding their own insight.
Ralph has a unique perspective by being a full-time artist and
owning his own gallery. We understand both sides of the business."
|By welcoming the
works of other artists, the Waterhouse Gallery has become a great
venue for a variety of styles, offering collectors an expanded
selection. Diane and Ralph show the works of several well-known,
talented plein-air painters and have organized paintouts in their
area. Among the notable artists they represent are Jackie Chiu,
John Comer, Louise DeMore, Ellie Freudenstein, Ray Hunter, Jean
LeGassick, Mark Lague, Calvin Liang, Michael Siegel, Dennis Sheehan,
Eric Slayton and Ralph Waterhouse.
The Waterhouses, in
addition to selling fine art, are avid collectors of works that
include many plein-air artists. "Our personal art collection
has more than 70 paintings. A true collector can always find
space for a new painting," explains Diane. "We have
felt that collectors should buy more form their hearts, what
they love, not what decorator or salesperson say. They should
buy from established galleries who carry talented painters and
sculptors. We also feel it is ridiculous for collectors to buy
expensive repligraphs when they could buy originals."
Reflecting on her gallery's approach to artists, Diane says,
"We would tell artists that we will represent them with
integrity and always carry a balance of work that does not have
artists competing with similar styles."
What does the future hold for this intimate and compelling gallery?
As Diane puts it, "We will always strive to carry the finest
painters and choose artists whose work we would personally own.
It is easy to sell what you are crazy about and believe in.