This month, famed artist George Dombek opens the doors of his Goshen, Ark., studio for a showing that will delight followers, captivate art enthusiasts and garner new fans.
George Dombek in his Goshen, Ark. gallery.
photography by Beth Hall
Renowned artist George Dombek is one of the Natural State’s treasures. He’s lived in several states and during his career, which spans five decades, has had more than 20 studios … yet, his studio/gallery space, sitting on 3 acres in northwest Arkansas is, in a word, paradise.
“I built this studio in 2000, and it was strictly my workspace,” he said. “Then I began to use it as gallery space as well. It would take two weeks to convert the workspace to a gallery for a show and up to 10 days to get it back to a working space.”
He said the decision to add 2,000 square feet, creating a specific gallery is one of logic; he’ll no longer lose valuable work time. The gallery includes an outdoor area, which will eventually become a sculpture garden. There are two entrances — one from his remodeled office, the other from the gallery — to the garden. With glass doors, the entrance/exit become seamless.
The office, very clean and organized in anticipation of the opening, is a comfortable space — though Dombek calls it “too corporate” due to the order — with walls lined with framed paintings from Dombek’s “Zinnia” series.
Though just feet from the road, the gallery/studio is situated so it feels enclosed as it’s surrounded by trees. Stone creates the stairway to the entrance and colorful pillows along a low wall create one of the many sitting areas in the garden that is shared by Dombek’s residence and gallery. The tranquil sound of water from a fountain greets visitors upon approach. An alcove, furnished with a pair of umber-hued leather chairs, juts out from the metal-sided building — a delightful surprise.
“I chose metal siding for the buildings to reflect our surroundings. It changes with the seasons just as nature changes — I like that aesthetic quality. Also, it doesn’t require a lot of maintenance,” Dombek said.
“Blue Butterflies,” 2012 watercolor, 40x40
Dombek’s works are most often framed and matted simply … this feeling of simplicity and sophistication is echoed in the interior design. The artist likens it to a “white cube.”
“Spatially and architecturally, I think the gallery reflects my paintings. It’s kind of a minimalist space,” he said. White oak floors and white walls reflect light, and fall back allowing the spectacularly-detailed watercolors to take center stage. Some pieces, Dombek said, are very complex in their nature, others not so much.
“My painting habits have changed over time.” He’s exhibited professionally for 37 years. “During these last five to eight years, I’ve not felt I have to paint one subject at a time,” he said, referring to his past practice of painting a series without a change in subject. “Right now, I’m working on barns again, trees, stick figures … it’s a lot more fun now.”
He smiles as he speaks of the source of the fun, a muse in miniature form: 5-year-old grandson Locklyn, who influenced his latest works featuring animals. “He and I are buddies. We’re doing things I never did as a child — riding go carts, playing miniature golf — and he’s so curious and smart.”
For example, Locklyn’s curiosity about holes in the ground on Dombek’s property prompted Dombek to capture an armadillo so Locklyn could see the source of the holes, which in turn prompted Dombek to create a watercolor titled “Armadillo,” reminiscent of Dombek’s “Tour de Tree” series. The series, aptly titled “Locklyn” features “Goat” and other pieces.
“Garden Tiger,” 2012 watercolor, 40x40
“I feel I’m doing my best work now. What took me two weeks to create in the past, I can now execute a lot quicker, which is good because I have a lot of ideas and a limited amount of time to execute them. I’m not necessarily creating more paintings, but the work is more complex now,” he said, noting that each painting is unique — though the topic may relate to another — “the variety in the process varies from one painting to another.”
Dombek fans will be delighted to know, while he doesn’t plan to “go into the gallery business,” he hopes to open the gallery for two-man shows every spring.
“This will be my way of giving back, by hosting a show with an emerging artist. I’d love to work with young artists — high school youth — opening my studio to them while my work is in progress.”
The new 2,100 square-foot gallery, at 844 Blue Springs Road, Goshen, Ark., will be open from 1 to 5 p.m., each Saturday and Sunday in October and by appointment. For more information, call (479) 442-8976 or log onto georgedombek.com.