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New art gallery to open Friday

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By Special to the Monitor

Karen Wray Fine Art, Studio and Gallery will celebrate its grand opening with an open house on Friday at 2101 Trinity Drive. The Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce will be on hand with giant scissors to help Wray cut the ribbon and the public is invited to attend from 4-6 p.m.

“Everybody was saying ‘You should open a gallery,’” Wray said Wednesday. After developing her style and body of work for many years, the time was right for Wray to take their advice.

Her vibrant florals and warm inviting landscapes should be familiar to local residents, especially since her painting “The Great Wall- Barranca Mesa/Bayo Canyon” appears on the cover of the local phone book.

She describes her style as “endeavoring to capture the first memorable impressions of the natural beauty of Los Alamos and the surrounding areas in my oil paintings and welcoming the viewer to share in her experience. You can almost feel the warmth of the sun, smell the sage and ponderosa-scented air and take in the grandeur and expansiveness of our New Mexico sky.”

Wray has been showing and selling her work to avid collectors in Los Alamos since 1998. Los Alamos National Laboratory employed her as a budget analyst until 1994, when her career was cut short by rheumatoid arthritis. She began painting as a hobby shortly thereafter, taking classes and attending workshops.

“My home studio began in a small guest bedroom in our home, which expanded into the living room, then to the dining room, then to the kitchen, finally into the hot tub room.  Frames, canvases, framed paintings and various supplies occupied nearly every room,” Wray said.

She added that her husband very diplomatically suggested that the time had come to consider renting space in town for her ever-expanding studio.  

After finding her gallery space, which had been formerly occupied by Executive Cleaners, “my husband began moving my art supplies, paintings, frames and easels from our home to the studio.”

Wray has previously shown her work on the Los Alamos Artists’ Studio Tour, at home shows and at businesses and restaurants throughout the community.

 Wray said,  “The idea of expanding my original plans of only studio space to a gallery became obvious when I realized what a great space I had, the possibility of exhibiting my work year round, and since Andrews’ Gallery closed, providing our community with another art venue.”  

She has noticed many tourists pulling into the Fuller Lodge parking lot during the weekend, exploring the Historical Museum, the Lodge and the Art Center and “it occurred to me that Los Alamos could benefit from more options available to tourists, as well as residents, on both Saturday and Sunday ... Los Alamos weekends without events tend to be fairly quiet.  I want to do my small part to join other businesses in town offering more local weekend shopping, dining, entertainment and exploring,” Wray said.  

The gallery will be open from noon- 2 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, from noon-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and additionally by appointment for individuals and groups.

Exhibits will change every six-eight weeks, and Wray hopes to eventually exhibit guest artists’ work as well. A sample of her work can be seen on her website: www.karenwrayfineart.com.