Falmouth artist Mimi Schlichter has opened an art gallery in the bright and spacious breezeway of her West Falmouth home.
Mimi’s Art Gallery at 345 West Falmouth Highway (Route 28A) will be open Fridays from 4 to 7 PM and Saturdays from 11 AM to 3 PM, as well as by appointment and by chance.
“I like to be out painting when the weather is nice, so keeping lots of retail hours is not my strong suit,” said Ms. Schlichter, who most recently had a gallery in West Falmouth Post Office Square before deciding a home gallery would better suit her personality.
“I love having the opportunity to interact with the public and to represent my own art. I think that so often people buy art because they meet the artist and they relate to them, and there’s something that comes from that,” she said.
Those familiar with Ms. Schlichter’s work from her previous gallery would be well-advised to stop in and have a look at some of her new pieces, which differ from her previous style.
“For the first several decades of my life I was a fairly tight realist painter, maybe a little impressionistic, and I honestly just got kind of bored with my own work,” she said, adding that two winters ago she was up late trying to rework a painting of the Truro dunes that “was not behaving well.” Ms. Schlichter said she got so frustrated with the painting, “I took a pallet knife and I started smearing the paint around. I knew nothing about abstract painting, but it felt really good and it totally changed it [the painting].”
After that first night, Ms. Schlichter said, she spent the whole month of January 2019 exploring abstract painting using the pallet knife.
Ms. Schlichter said her new style, which she describes as a significant change from her other paintings, has been well-received.
“There’s a different energy to the vibrancy of the paintings. There’s texture there that wasn’t there before, and even the painting process for me has become more of an adventure. I don’t necessarily have a finished scene in mind; I’m allowing it to go where the paint wants to go. It’s exciting for me because, rather than trying to control the paint for an outcome I have in mind, it’s almost like the old darkroom experience of watching something develop and seeing what happens. Sometimes these joyful little surprises show up.”
Ms. Schlichter is still inspired by the landscapes of the Cape but said she is now “watching the clouds and watching the sky, then allowing the painting to take shape on its own.”
Ms. Schlichter’s previous works also included what she refers to as Mini Mimis, four-inch-by-four-inch paintings that she would create in her car while parked at the beach. “It’s a challenge to take a two-inch-long pallet knife and work on a four-by-four-inch Masonite board; you fill it very quickly. So I have been taking that look and trying to translate it to a much larger piece. It’s a whole other process to learn, and I’m still working on that,” she said. “It’s fun after having painted since I was 13 to be learning new things. To change it up a little bit.”
With the coronavirus pandemic, one of the things artists and galleries have had to do is to think outside the box and be creative about how to get artwork in front of people. Ms. Schlichter said she has been exploring putting work up on Instagram and also has reached out to collaborate with interior designers. “It’s definitely challenging times for artists who are looking to make a livelihood out of it, but there’s also tremendous opportunity and artists who are really taking this as a creative opportunity,” she said.
Ms. Schlichter said she will be following all health protocols in the gallery: “There’s hand sanitizer, and people need to wear masks. I have intentionally displayed everything so nothing needs to be touched. When I’m open, I leave the storm door open so no one will have to touch the door handle. There are doors at both ends of the breezeway so the air can move through. I have two chairs set up in the front yard so if people come and there are already people inside they can sit and wait, or if a spouse would rather wait outside than come look at the paintings. I’m trying to be user-friendly and respectful of people’s needs. I may expand and offer more hours as I see how things fluctuate.”
The gallery is set up for Venmo for anyone who does not want to touch money or exchange cards and will even offer old-fashioned, interest-free layaway. “I don’t want to be the source of someone’s credit card debt,” Ms. Schlichter said.
“I’ve had the joy of being in large galleries, and I hope to do that again in the future, but I really enjoy the personal interaction with a client. I paint to the ‘Wow.’ I want to see that joyful expression that someone really connects with a painting and that it’s going to brighten their life when they look at it. Paintings endure,” she said.