Tucked into a line of shops on Wilshire Boulevard near Third Street, the outside of the newly opened gGallery betrays little of the wonder that lies within.
The space – which houses an array of art from original Picassos to Andy Warhol prints to small wooden toys – has bright red carpet, a stage, glossy mannequins with outstretched arms suspended from the ceiling, and several of local artist Brandon Margo’s large whimsical metal sculptures placed near the entranceway.
It’s the brainchild of legendary animator Gabor Csupo, the creative mind behind the hit Nickelodeon shows “Rugrats,” “The Wild Thornberrys,” and “Rocket Power.” He’s one of the reasons “The Simpsons” are yellow, and Marge’s hair is blue. His projects, now including the gallery, challenge the ordinary.
“I just wanted to have a place where people come in and they feel cozy and fun to look at stuff,” Csupo said. “And that’s why I didn’t want to do your typical art gallery space, which I do like, but I get very bored very quickly once I walk through the ten paintings hanging on a big white wall. I wanted to make it a little more like eye candy for people.
“That’s why we have a cabinet which has hundreds of antiques and small objects and cool stuff. Because I just think that anything can be called art as long as somebody did it with a great passion for shaping and forming out of anything. It can be a pencil drawing on a paper but it can also be a beautifully crafted lock.”
Csupo, who opened the gallery with the help of his business partner Kay Ro, said the inspiration for opening a gallery came from his passion of collecting art in his private life.
“It was just all the sudden,” he said. “It was like an impulse, like an instinct. One morning I woke up and I said, ‘I always collect art and my house is so filled up, how can I still do it?’ and the only way, an outlet for that inspiration, was to open up a gallery.”
Csupo’s personal tastes have little to do with appraised value, and everything to do with personal taste and intuition.
“Whatever I feel like is fun to look at or if something I see which I think I would want to have it in my house – that is what the criteria was when I started looking for things,” he said.
“And it doesn’t need to be expensive. I’m not a snob. I can hang something up I find it for $15 because I think its cool, and I like it, so it doesn’t have to be only expensively approved by major art collectors. I don’t care about that. Yes, I have a few of those as well because I appreciate it. But it wasn’t the purpose for this gallery to only display really really expensive high end stuff.”
The gallery has a room with classic big artists – Picasso and Chagall, to name a couple – along with pieces such as a limited edition Andy Warhol lithograph of Marilyn Monroe. Upstairs, there is an affordable selection of posters and inexpensive pieces for “people who really want to put something on their wall and they have less than a hundred dollars,” Csupo said.
The gallery, which opened less than a month ago, strives to not only sell art, but also become a community gathering space.
On Friday nights, gGallery hosts live performances at an event it calls “Artcrowd Cluster.”
“We like to kind of get the people who are in to art or music or social gatherings in the artistic environment to kind of have this as their hang out place. And I understand there are very few places like this in Santa Monica,” Csupo said.
“Although it’s a very artistic community. A lot of artists live here and a lot of art collectors live around here. That’s why we like to be here. And we like the fresh air, the ocean, and all the crazy people who walk in here every day. It’s a fun way of meeting new people in your life, and I’m really enjoying it.”
The gallery is located at 319 Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica. For more information, visit www.ggalleryla.com.