For Jose Chamorro, Junier Herrera, and Orel Doñan, art is just as much a part of life as breathing is to the rest of us. On July 23, the Art and Picture Framing storefront at 55th Street and Bergenline Avenue in West New York will open a gallery exhibition where all three men will showcase their work and offer wine to attendees. They hope to further promote the dialogue between life and art in their community.
Jose Chamorro owns the store. He came to the United States 22 years ago from Colombia with art already rooted in his soul. He used to be an art teacher. Since 1991, his gallery has showcased artwork while the framing business paid the bills.
Chamorro considers himself both a merchant and an artist. “I just feel I had to do something special with the two,” said Chamorro. “I’ve been painting all my life.”
Junier Herrera, a West New York resident for nine years, comes from Colombia and has worked in New York City as an illustrator and private consultant in home decoration. His business card even includes his own finely detailed artwork.
“I love the contrast between dark and light colors,” said Herrera while he demonstrated his portrait of a woman on a 5-foot square canvas. “The human figure fascinates me.”
Orel Doñan couldn’t be better rooted in Hispanic influences at the moment. The artist is currently in the Central American country of El Salvador. His brother Carlos is in the United States and will represent Orel at the gallery exhibition. Both brothers have been bitten by the creative bug.
Orel has traveled the globe to places such as Madrid to promote his artwork. Carlos is a dancer and choreographer who received a proclamation award by Union City’s mayor, Brian Stack, for being “Distinguished Salvadorian of the Year” in 2007.
“The first time I saw my brother express art, it was with tempera paint on our furniture.” – Carlos Doñan
“[It was] a figure, with which he identifies, based on something emotional. It was a personal situation,” said Carlos of his brother’s artwork.
The artists, describing their initial encounters with art, said their love for creating with their hands started when they were very young children.
“I was a little kid, like 8 years old. I painted the best pineapple in the whole class so I won the first prize,” said Chamorro with a smile on his face.
“The first time I saw my brother express art was with tempera paint on our furniture,” said Carlos Doñan. He said at the time the piece of furniture was thought to be ruined by having paint smeared all over it, but in fact it was improved.
“I discovered art while drawing a heart at my father’s store. I was 5 years old,” said Herrera.
Though the most expensive piece at the gallery might be $2,000, Chamorro believes in making art accessible to the public, even more for those who aren’t likely to include art as a prominent part of their everyday life.
“I think some people may be afraid to enter an art gallery because they think the art is for people with a lot of money,” said Herrera. “But we’re here to propose that art is a right for everyone, independent of their status.”
The showcase will include at least 45 pieces of artwork made by the three men.
For more information on the Art and Picture Framing storefront, visit their website at: www.artpicframing.com.
Melissa Rappaport may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org