A new gallery will debut in Dallas' Design District, spotlighting an uncommon medium: gilded glass. The Starr Gallery will open at 135c Pittsburg St., in a former florist space, as a spin-off of the successful gallery of the same name in Denton.
Owner Sean Starr is an artist, sign painter, designer, and illustrator who has achieved an international reputation working on projects with artists such as The Cranberries, Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsay Buckingham, and The Toadies.
He was featured in the film Sign Painters, which led to work for companies like the Gap, Indian Motorcycle, and Sony Music, earning coverage in publications such as the Discovery Channel, NBC, and ArtForum magazine.
He'll use the Design District space to show his fantastical artwork as well as work from other artists, and keep his original studio in Denton, which he operates with his wife, Kayleigh Starr, for commercial artwork and design.
Starr became first involved in art and custom paint in the 1980s while working for his father's company, Starr Kustom Paint, during summer breaks from school.
He struck out on his own, and his sign painting business did well. But the unique gilding glass process he does took on a life of its own, and has led him on a migration away from traditional commercial assignments and into commissioned art.
It's called Verre Églomisé, in which gold or other precious metals are painted onto the back of glass, along with an often elaborate design, to create a rich, luminescent finish.
"I've been around this type of work my whole life," he says. "Doing gold leaf on glass is the pinnacle in the trade of sign painting. It's so complex and challenging, and difficult to execute, that it's the last phase in the journey of a sign painter. But in the last five years, that's where we've developed an expertise. It's been an odd turn of events, that we found this little niche."
His work was featured in a show at the Guerrero Gallery in San Francisco, which led to more gallery shows, and finally it seemed to make sense to do a gallery of their own. At this point, there is a waiting list for his work.
The Dallas space will allow him to exhibit some of his larger glass pieces, which can run as big as 6 feet tall. But there's also something magical and elusive about the work and about the materials itself that you have to see to understand.
"Gilding on glass and seeing the gold is as up close and personal as you can possibly get, but we're never able to get a photograph that captures it," he says. "That's another benefit to the space. We work with a lot of designers and architects, and this gives them an opportunity to see it first-hand and wrap their brain around the effect."
The opening will be on June 3, from 7-9 pm, and will consist of Starr's original pieces of gilded glass and canvas, as well. The show will include the original artwork Starr created for the Toadies' Heretics album cover. There will also be an unveiling of a new large scale gilded glass piece for J. Hall & Co. Gentlemen Tattooers.