Clarendon Fine Arts: Downtown’s Glam New Gallery

above: The first North American flagship of Clarendon Fine Arts, the British high-end gallery group, which opened on Main Street in February.

Clarendon Fine Arts: Downtown’s Glam New Gallery

That was the rallying cry from Westport Colonialists in 1777 when a fleet of British warships anchored off Compo Beach.

Today, local shoppers are more likely to exclaim “The British are here!” observing a more-welcome British invasion.

Westport is fast becoming a prized destination for British companies seeking to expand into the American market. And why not? Our town’s longtime reputation as a haven for artists, actors, musicians and creative type and as a home to a native audience of lovers of culture and the arts, in general has made it a logical choice for U.K. enterprises.

On the heels of the London-based home furnishings company OKA opening downtown earlier this winter, Clarendon Fine Art, the British high-end gallery group, opened its flagship U.S. gallery on February 10 at 22 Main Street. (Clarendon operates art galleries in London and dozens of other U.K. locations, as well as floating galleries onboard the royalty of British cruise ships: The Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Victoria, the Queen Mary II.)

“Westport has always been an arts town that has attracted art people, so there’s a real appreciation for the arts here,” says Eve Gianni, general manager of the Westport gallery, who comes to Clarendon from an interior design background and with previous gallery experience in the Hamptons. “I think people used to feel that they had to go to the City to find art. Now they can come here.”

Clarendon Fine Art showcases a wide range of American and International artists, including 20th century masters Picasso, Miro and Chagall.

The Westport gallery showcases a wide range of American and International artists, from blue-chip 20th century masters including Picasso, Miro, Chagall and Dali to contemporary artists such as Mr. Brainwash. It also exhibits the work emerging and midcareer artists, including established contemporary artists such as Fabian Perez and Sharie Valentine, across forms-paintings, drawings, sculpture-and genres: landscape, wildlife life, and both figurative and abstract works.

Typically, Gianni and her two-woman staff walk through the gallery with prospective buyers, both those new to the art world and long-time art collectors, but they also make house calls to help determine which pieces will work in a prospective buyer’s home.

For first-time art buyers here, Gianni’s advice is simple: “Follow your heart. “

“A lot of people are overwhelmed by the amount of choices in the art world,” she adds. “So I think it’s really a matter of having a conversation to identify why customers are collecting-whether it’s because they want to fill their walls or because they’ve fallen in love with a piece.”

Simplifying and demystifying the art-buying process is central to founder and CEO Helen Swaby’s mission: “We create an inspirational journey through the art world for every individual, whether they are a seasoned art collector or are just starting out,” she says. “All our Art Advisors believe passionately in the joy of collecting, and we love nothing more than sharing that passion with others.”

The gallery’s professional staff guides first-time and seasoned art collectors in appreciating the work of emerging plus established contemporary artists.
Clarendon Fine Art Westport

is open seven days a week. Its grand opening was celebrated at the end of April. For gallery hours and for more information, call 203.293.0976 or visit clarendonfineart.com.

Photography: courtesy Clarendon Fine Arts

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