When you walk into Tony Grant’s gallery, you see colors — so many colors. Sexy reds, soft greens, icy blues and luminous yellows — an alluring spectrum.
“People always mention the colors,” Grant says and laughs. A woman and her little girl walk hand-in-hand into his gallery, and the woman, in awe, remarks on how vibrant his paintings are. He smiles and winks. This isn’t the first person gushing over his use of color today.
“I consider myself a colorist. Color combinations in my paintings are very important to me, even if I’m only using three or four colors in one painting, like the raven painting,” Grant says. “I want the right combination of colors so that the artwork pops and you are drawn to it.”
Subtle, soft hues in his earthy paintings “Morning Earth” and “Two Trees” contrast the rich, screaming colors in his abstract expressionism paintings, “Jazz” and “Landscape in Red.”
“Everyone that walks in my studio-gallery comments on how fun, bright, cheery and even soothing the colors are in my paintings,” Grant says. “I like to use a color palette that makes you want to smile.”
He didn’t plan to be a professional artist. Grant spent 30 years working at various architecture firms in San Diego and Boulder, and though he spent his days pondering partitions, pillars and porticos, his mind always circled back to painting, his passion.
He spent those 30 years painting feverishly on the side, refining his technique and redefining his understanding of color. After enduring three economic downturns and losing his job during this one, Grant decided he’d had enough. He set architecture aside and began focusing on painting full time. Grant opened the Anthony Grant Studio Gallery, at 917 Front St. in Old Town Louisville’s Art Underground, — a long basement corridor also housing painter and mixed-media artist Monika Edgar, opera singer Dana Vachharajani, a dance studio, an art classroom and a new dance-art space — on Nov. 6. Grant’s gallery opening showcased his abstract expressionism and representational paintings.
“This is my job, my career,” Grant says. “This is it. I can’t go through this again. I’m at a good point where this is it. … I’m lucky to have a second vocation.”
Grant is enjoying the benefits of having his own gallery. He gets 100 percent of the sales, he represents himself and gets to work out of his own space, although this isn’t holding him back from participating in art events and showing in other galleries.
“I can’t limit myself to this space if I want to show and sell work,” he says. “I’m the new kid in town. I’m letting people know I’m here.”
One of the perks for Grant’s new Louisville locale is that the city is in the process of creating an art district downtown, a hub that will support local arts. Also, at Grant’s new space in the Art Underground, there is plenty of foot traffic for a basement gallery. The resident opera singer has a choir and gives singing lessons, and adult tap dancers and tutu-clad children practice their dance routines at the studio, bringing plenty of visitors off the streets. The parents who drop their children off at dance lessons are enticed by Grant’s paintings that hang in the Underground’s long halls. Craving more colors and images, they are lured into his gallery by his vibrant paintings, following them like a breadcrumb trail.
In addition to participating in Louisville’s art walk on the first Friday of every month, Grant is getting out in the art community by teaching private and group lessons to people who are pursuing painting on a whim or as a craft.
“[Teaching] is another dimension to create out in the community … to get people jazzed in the area,” says Grant. “If they have talent and want to keep it up, good for them. It’s taken me 30 years to learn this.”
Grant started exploring painting techniques when he moved into his first apartment and disliked looking at his blank, white walls. He decided to fill the void by creating his own artwork. And so he began painting, finding his way and exploring what paint could do through abstract expressionism. He then started throwing images into his paintings and began working on representational paintings. And now, 30 years down the road, covering white walls has led up to this, the Anthony Grant Studio Gallery.
“You can paint anywhere, but you can’t show anywhere,” Grant says. Fortunately, he is blessed with being able to do both in his own space.
On the Bill:
The Anthony Grant Studio Gallery is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
917 Front St., Louisville, 303-408- 5533, www.anthonygrant.us.