A new art gallery called Galactic Panther will open its doors in Old Town Alexandria this Friday, featuring an “ESP” (or extra-sensory perception) themed exhibition and sketch by Pablo Picasso.
“I’m trained in hypnotherapy, and my wife is reiki master, and we’re both very interested in exploring those kind of more intuitive arts,” says co-owner and artist Eli Pollard, explaining the ESP theme. “Artists employ this intuitive kind of sense when they work. We might not have a plan when we’re going to create something, but oftentimes there’s what we call happy accidents or inspirations that come mid-stride that affect our work.”
The gallery is a collaboration between Pollard and Alexandria tech entrepreneur and ESP Coffee and Tea owner Erik Muendel. Muendel is a collector of Pollard’s work, which is also featured in his King Street cafe. Muendel recently took over and revamped the cafe (formerly called Killer ESP) following controversy surrounding the previous owner, whose staff famously quit en masse twice.
Pollard says a few such happy accidents birthed the gallery’s concept. When he first travelled to DC to meet with Muendel and discuss opening a gallery, he had a local artist ask him to create an “ESP painting,” which matched not only the name of Muendel’s coffee shop (which stood for Espresso Snacks Pie under the previous owner), but also Pollard’s initials.
Another happy accident came along when Pollard discovered the Picasso piece, an etching called “Pour Ruby,” which was acquired from the personal collection of a physics professor.
“A friend of mine called me one morning and was very excited about the sale of some artwork from the physics professor’s collection,” Pollard says. “I told my wife that I thought we should check it out ‘in case there was a random Picasso.’ When we got there, there happened to be one random Picasso. For me this intuitive glimpse of what was ahead is part of what really ties this particular piece into the ESP exhibit.”
The 1,200-square-foot space will also feature works from artists around the world. “We know Picasso, but a lot of these artists are unknown,” Pollard says. “I’ve got people sending stuff in from Russia, from Ireland, from Haiti, from Wisconsin, and they all have their own voice, different things to be excited about.”
Galactic Panther will strive to be a diverse space for art. “I wanted it to be bigger than me,” Pollard says. “Anything galactic is bigger than me, it’s bigger than Alexandria, it’s bigger than DC.”
Galactic Panther’s grand opening is on August 6th, with doors open from 6 to 10 PM.
Galactic Panther. 1303 King St., Alexandria. Open Wednesday-Sunday, 11AM-7PM.