UNVEILING LOCAL TALENT

BY LESLIE J. THOMPSON

Winter weather can be fickle in Dallas, and locals are notoriously averse to going out when temperatures are near freezing. So, as the mercury dipped into the 20s on January 7, interior designer Jen Mauldin was understandably concerned that turnout for the opening of her namesake art gallery would be low. Her fears were quickly abated, however, as close to 250 guests arrived to peruse her new space in the Bishop Arts District.

“We had a really good night,” says Mauldin, standing amidst a collection of watercolors and mixed media, oil and acrylic paintings by artist Haylee Ryan on display in the front of the gallery. The large picture window by the entrance floods the space with natural light and looks out onto the cozy restaurants, boutiques and coffee bars lining Bishop Avenue. The location generates considerable foot traffic, particularly on the weekends, notes Mauldin, who cheerfully invites passersby into her newly christened storefront.

“I really want to be a friendly gallery. I want people to feel welcome when they come in and that they can ask questions,” she says. She strives to not only educate people about local artists, but also illustrate how art can transform a space. “I want to be a gallery that’s thought-provoking and creates a memorable experience when people come in. At the same time, I want the art to be friendly to interiors and something people would have in their homes,” she says.

Works on display include intricate bronze sculptures by Hobbes Vincent, mixed-media work by Shoby Modjarrad, surreal photographs by Paxton Maroney, pop culture paintings by Courtney Miles, and acrylic paintings on found wood by Kyle Steed. Mauldin showcases emerging artists from the Dallas area exclusively and aims to foster new relationships between clients and artists by hosting intimate gatherings at the gallery the third Thursday of each month. At the same time, she hopes to draw more attention to the bustling Bishop Arts District as a whole. “I’d love to see more galleries come into this area and for this to be a place to come and see art,” she says.

Mauldin herself fell in love with fine art as a young girl when her mother used to take her to NorthPark Center. Real estate developer and art collector Raymond Nasher exhibited museum-quality pieces throughout the sprawling Dallas shopping mall, which today still displays work from the most renowned artists of the 20th and 21st centuries.

“I remember as a very young girl running up to these sculptures that looked larger than life and gazing at them forever,” says Mauldin. Her fascination with art as a child eventually led her to pursue a degree in architecture at Texas A&M and later embark on a career as an interior designer. During her decade-long tenure at Wilson Associates, Mauldin curated art wherever she traveled while leading design projects at luxury resorts, casinos and palaces around the globe.

With the opening of her new gallery, Mauldin’s peers from the interior design world have been quick to seek her input on projects, and she welcomes the opportunity to collaborate. “Working with interior designers is a huge focus of mine, because I know what they want—I know their clients, because they’ve been my clients,” she says. She also hopes to leverage her extensive background creating visually captivating resort interiors by teaming with hospitality designers.

In keeping with the vivacious owner’s unwavering commitment to the success of local artists, Jen Mauldin Gallery hosts a new opening on the first Saturday of each month. As she lists the exhibits still to come later in the year, her passion and vision for the city’s future as a cultural hub are self-evident. Says Mauldin: “The art scene in Dallas is not just emerging, it’s been blossoming for years and I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of it firsthand. My goal with Jen Mauldin Gallery is to shine a light on the best of the local area’s fine artists and to cultivate similar personal relationships for clients so that our unique scene can continue to grow and thrive.”

Leslie J. Thompson is a Dallas-based freelance writer with a passion for interior design.