Thoughts and ideas from Matt Kaplinsky
Opening Night at the Commerce Gallery in Lockhart
June 3, 2019 at 12:00 AM
by Matt Kaplinsky
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I recently had the pleasure of being a guest artist at the Commerce Gallery in Lockhart, Texas. If you’re not familiar with the area, Lockhart is in central Texas, about 30 miles from Austin. I originally thought I’d never been to Lockhart since I typically sell my landscape paintings and abstract work in Austin itself, but once I arrived in town, I discovered that I’d had the opportunity to enjoy the local BBQ before. I was delighted to have the opportunity to return.  

I was connected to the Commerce Gallery through my longtime dealer at NEST Modern. The gallery is owned by two charming people, Donna Blair and Tamara Carlisle. I met one of the owners when she traveled to my studio and prepared to select the pieces of mine which would be on display for the show – the show itself was to be of my work and that of the resident artist, Christopher St. Leger.  

The next step was to gather my work for the show itself. This was more intense than I’d anticipated. First, I had to frame the very large pieces, which involved making each frame myself. I’d thought this would be easier than it was, and it took some time. From there, each piece had to be wrapped and protected for its trip to Lockhart and the Commerce Gallery. Then, I drove my van down to the show, ready to enjoy myself. The show and the experience overall, however, far exceeded my expectations.  

The town of Lockhart is absolutely charming. Once I’d dropped off my pieces at the gallery, I took the opportunity to walk through the town. It has absolutely everything: great places to eat, a theater presenting the work of local actors, fascinating local shops, antique stores – and even more important for my personal interests, a strong representation of the local art community. Lockhart has multiple art galleries and exhibit spaces and is a truly beautiful place for an artist to visit.  

After I’d stretched my legs and explored the town, I headed back to the gallery to get ready for the show. With the assistance of the owners, my art was hung in the gallery; it was even showcased in display windows facing the street.  

Once the hard work was done, Donna, Tamara, and I went to a local pizza and brewpub called Loop n Lils for dinner. The food was absolutely phenomenal. Afterward, I stayed in a beautiful, 1910 home. It had been renovated and now included a very modern kitchen. I can’t overstate how gracious and welcoming Donna and Tamara were during my stay.  

The next morning, I had the joy of further exploring the artistic side of Lockhart until the opening of the show. There was a heavy downpour that night, which I thought might dampen the enthusiasm of the local art aficionados looking for landscape paintings, but attendance for the show was high. I experienced the joy of selling a few paintings right away, which is always a great boost to one’s ego in a new gallery.  

After the opening, Donna and Tamara brought me home with several of their friends so we could enjoy some late night drinks and conversation. I wish I could have stayed longer in Lockhart, but the following day I needed to make my way to Houston, then San Antonio, then Dallas. If you’ve ever had the experience of exploring Texas, you certainly know how long those drives are.  

The town of Lockhart holds a “first Friday’ event on the first Friday of every month, showcasing local shops and merchants. I can’t wait to return to the Commerce Gallery for the event, and then again when the show ends (on July 1st).  

There’s no question in my mind: Lockhart is on its way to becoming the hottest small town in Texas, especially as an art destination. I have every intention to continue to support the community in every way I can.