ELBURN – Two artists have opened a studio and gallery in Elburn, a place for them to work and exhibit.
Francis Joseph Gagnepain IV of Batavia – known as Art By Joseph – and Ed Pineda, artist and owner of U Need A Sign in St. Charles, collaborated to open Xhibit 151 at 151 E. Route 38.
A metal giraffe sculpture by Joseph is posted outside the building.
“Joe and I met seven years ago,” Pineda said. “I was coming out of an Office Depot, and he was coming in, and he had a crazy hat and a crazy costume on and I said, ‘I gotta meet you dude.’ ”
Gagnepain’s wildly colored van also caught Pineda’s eye.
“I said, ‘You need help with the vehicle. I can do a full wrap,’ ” Pineda said. “He said, ‘Dude, I painted that. It’s forever changing.’ He is a true artist. After that, Joe and I just hooked up, did some projects together, and everything just took off. Joe inspired me to get out my canvases and my paints.”
Pineda rented a former sign company’s location, renaming it U Need A Sign. He opened a second location in Elburn and told Gagnepain there was an empty spot next door – just right for a gallery.
“I always wanted to have a gallery,” Pineda said. “I read a couple of books on how to be a gallery owner.”
One of the pieces of advice is to find a niche artist to draw people in, Pineda said.
“I thought that would help Joe and help me,” Pineda said. “We are opening a door to encourage an arts community in the Elburn area. We want people to come up and see us work.”
Gagnepain’s sculptures made from metal scrap are well-known in the area – such as the horse in front of Geneva City Hall – but he also is known for his signs and murals.
“I was in downtown Batavia and moved out to the country,” Gagnepain said. “It seemed a right fit with scrap metal. It’s always hard to be somewhere with mountains of scrap metal.”
But after a year of being out in a rented barn and garage in rural Elburn, Gagnepain said he was ready for a more “civilized space.”
“It was not a commercial space, and I missed having that ability for people to visit,” Gagnepain said. “It was a barn and a garage with mice and stuff on a farm. The outside would get overgrown. I needed a civilized space. I wanted to show my work on finished walls.”
Teaming up with Pineda in Elburn seemed the right fit for both of them to pursue painting, he said.
“I did not see any galleries in town,” Gagnepain said. “People were telling us we are filling a void. It’s nice to be that. It’s very important for us to support other local artists, getting them exposure. We are in the process of designing the walls to accommodate more wall space for art.”
Xhibit 151 is not quite ready for visitors, Gagnepain said. The two are working on the gallery and getting it set up for a grand opening at a later date.
Information about the gallery is online at www.xhibit151.com.