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The Waterhouse Gallery

 
Plein-Air Magazine, November 2004
 Few galleries today can lay claim to being in business long enough to see painting and buying trends change, but November marks the 20th anniversary of the Waterhouse Gallery, which has seen many styles pass in and out of vogue. Diane Waterhouse, co-owner of the gallery, says: "When we started in 1984, Realism was extremely popular, and the looser plein-air works were overlooked. We were lovers of the early plein-air movement and took in artwork from young and aspiring plein-air painters, giving them a venue when a lot of galleries had not yet discovered the beauty of plein air painting."
 Waterhouse has no formal training in art, but she grew up with a father who was a portrait artist. She is a trustee of the Santa Barbara Historical Society and a board member of Santa Barbara Beautiful.
Her husband and partner, Ralph Waterhouse, was formally trained in England as a graphic artist and has been painting for the last 30 years. He has always operated an artist-owned gallery, including one in the Lake District (Ambleside, England) for eight years. When he moved to the United States, it was natural to continue the tradition. In November 1984, the Waterhouse Gallery opened its doors. Ralph is currently chairman of the California Art Club/ Santa Barbara Region and is president of the Santa Barbara Art Dealers Association.

 



   Diane is responsible for finding new talent, conducting sales part-time, and handling most of the installation and display of works. Regarding her partner, says Diane: "Being a plein-air painter himself, Ralph understands the complexities and the immediacy of outdoor painting. It is satisfying and invigorating to produce work on location, [and this is] reflected in the paintings. Clients respond to this without necessarily realizing or understanding their own insight. Ralph has a unique perspective by being a full-time artist and owning his own gallery. We understand both sides of the business."


Diane Waterhouse
By welcoming the works of other artists, the Waterhouse Gallery has become a great venue for a variety of styles, offering collectors an expanded selection. Diane and Ralph show the works of several well-known, talented plein-air painters and have organized paintouts in their area. Among the notable artists they represent are Jackie Chiu, John Comer, Louise DeMore, Ellie Freudenstein, Ray Hunter, Jean LeGassick, Mark Lague, Calvin Liang, Michael Siegel, Dennis Sheehan, Eric Slayton and Ralph Waterhouse.
 The Waterhouses, in addition to selling fine art, are avid collectors of works that include many plein-air artists. "Our personal art collection has more than 70 paintings. A true collector can always find space for a new painting," explains Diane. "We have felt that collectors should buy more form their hearts, what they love, not what decorator or salesperson say. They should buy from established galleries who carry talented painters and sculptors. We also feel it is ridiculous for collectors to buy expensive repligraphs when they could buy originals."
Reflecting on her gallery's approach to artists, Diane says, "We would tell artists that we will represent them with integrity and always carry a balance of work that does not have artists competing with similar styles."
What does the future hold for this intimate and compelling gallery? As Diane puts it, "We will always strive to carry the finest painters and choose artists whose work we would personally own. It is easy to sell what you are crazy about and believe in.

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