Owner of 19Karen Contemporary Art in Mermaid Beach, Terri Lew is somewhat of a local cultural icon unto herself.
Since 2008 she has built and nourished the Coast’s art scene and introduced us to countless incredible artists, both emerging and established, and their works.
Ahead of the May Exhibition openings this week, we spoke to Terri about her passion for contemporary art and why we should invest in only those pieces that makes us happy.
What can Gold Coasters expect from the May exhibitions at 19Karen?
Four very different shows by four different artists with a common thread and similar concern for our environment and the world we live in.
Japanese born, local artist, Go Suga, is using his skills as a graphic designer to illustrate and create paintings in bright happy colors. The title of his show is ‘Time Traveler’. Go is concerned about the environment and wants to know what caused the destruction of planet earth. He travels back in time to examine the cause and hope to prevent it from happening again. Each painting is a scene that leads to another and each has a story line.
Sacha Beverley is also a local artist whose abstract work tells a personal story. A story that explores her inner desires, hopes and dreams. The color palette used in this new body of work is subtle yet strong in shapes, layers of paint and symbolic imagery with hidden words absent from viewing.
Japanese artist (living and working in Japan) Ryuzo Kojima, whose message is also strongly associated with nature, uses recyclable materials to create his beautiful iconic figures. Ryuzo believes that nature keeps us alive and the most important matter in human living is conscious understanding of our precious lives, love for all!
Norwegian artist, Peter-John de Villiers, tells a similar story in his black and white paintings on canvas. PJ humanising pets because of their irresistible personalities and unconditional love. PJ believe that animals are here to teach us something about ourselves. He is willing to suspend reality for a moment just to imagine life through the eyes of his pets.
There are a few local artists on show, what do you personally love about the Coast’s artistic scene?
I love the fact that both artists really appreciate the city they live in. You can see it in their work. Their work is happy and uncomplicated despite the story they are trying to tell us. It has something to do with our lifestyle on the Gold Coast. Our beautiful weather makes us happy and we have no reason to be unhappy. We live in the best part of the country (even the world) we just need to appreciate it more. These two artists remind us of that.
How do you decide who to showcase?
I usually use my taste in art and artists when I curate a show. I cannot show art that I personally don’t like. For me it’s not about just selling the art although that is an important part of a commercial gallery and it is what drives the artists to continue their practice.
How have you seen the local art scene grow since you opened 19Karen?
When I opened the gallery two new galleries emerged and one old gallery closed. Since then many young entrepreneurs took the plunge and opened their own creative businesses. I really believe that I started this movement on the Gold Coast, starting with the warehouse style art space and showcasing emerging art other galleries wouldn’t take a chance on.
What did you hope to create when you opened the gallery in 2008?
A movement in contemporary cutting edge art, art that triggers an emotional reaction when you see it for the first time. Art which doesn’t need any explanation and art that no other gallery in Australia would dare to show.
How did your journey into art and gallery life come about?
I sold my successful publishing business after 20 years of demanding work and wasn’t quite ready to retire. I was an art collector and was married to an artist for 20 years. This was something I wanted to do before I retired and when the opportunity presented itself, I took it.
What do you hope is the future of art and culture on the Gold Coast?
More education, understanding, appreciation and love for the arts. I’d like to see the Gold Coast community invest in art, not just for the sake of investment but because it enhances their life and makes them happy. For me collecting art and being surrounded by art, at home and in the gallery, makes me very happy. It’s like the air I breathe.
Anything else we should know about 19Karen?
The work in our gallery is totally different to any art you will see in any commercial gallery in Australia. With over 100 artists (and more to come), we have the biggest variety of art of any successful commercial gallery in Australia. We have urban art, street art, low brow, figurative, abstract, portraits, surrealism, graphics, whimsical, quirky, expressionism, pop surrealism, pop art and everything in between. There is also ceramic and porcelain art, a few sculptures and unique jewelry from Spain.
Your favourite piece of life advice?
Do what you love and love what you and it won’t be considered as work. Take risks in life and make it work!
You’re not a Gold Coast local if you haven’t… lived here at least four seasons.
Restaurant…Etsu, The Glenelg Pub, Social Dining in Broadbeach
Coffee shop…Bookface at Pacific Fair. They make the best coffee!!!!
LOCATION: 19 Karen Ave, Mermaid Beach.