Not long after clothing retailer Free People emptied its Greenwich Avenue storefront, local artist Peter Layne Arguimbau replaced it with a gallery featuring his and others’ work.
Next to VW Contemporary, which also opened this fall, Arguimbau Artstands in stark contrast to its neighbor. For nearly 30 years, Arguimbau has worked out of an 1850s chestnut barn in backcountry Greenwich. His paintings in the Hudson River School style are sold in a variety of galleries, but he and his partner Kim Ferraro decided this summer it was time for a presence in downtown Greenwich.
After surveying their options by walking up and down the street, their shortlist included the storefront at 351 Greenwich Ave., where they opened at the end of October. It’s the third locally owned art gallery to open near the bottom of the avenue in just a few months.
“We want to make it a community here,” Arguimbau said of their decision to open among other galleries.
“We even see it as a positive to be so close to VW Contemporary since we’re so different,” Ferraro said.
Arguimbau grew up in Darien grinding pigments for his father, a portrait painter, and has traveled around the world studying and refining his technique. Today, he’s equal parts artist and educator.
His work covering the gallery walls encompasses portraits of people and dogs, American flags fluttering in the wind and a range of seascapes highlighting Arguimbau’s passion for boating and expansive sky views.
“I love the fluidness of the sky and water,” he said. “I grew up on the water; it’s like the womb or something.” Much of his art features familiar New England locations such as Long Island Sound and Newport.
Arguimbau takes pride in crafting the frames for his paintings himself, though he’s mostly given up gilding. Many of the frames are antiques, with some costing thousands of dollars on their own.
Almost any discussion about Arguimbau’s art dovetails into a lesson about art history, artistic techniques or his thoughts on what’s considered art these days.
He paints exclusively with oils and detests acrylics. Following his father’s example, Arguimbau grinds his own pigments and mixes them with a variety of resins into cocktails that are the artist’s secret recipes. Stored in reused baby food jars, scores of unmarked resins litter a table in his studio, which he mixes with the only nine pigments that comprise his palette. “This is all I need to make millions of tonalities,” he said, pointing to his painting of a vibrant sunset over the ocean.
The public’s feedback to Arguimbau Art Gallery has already been “fantastic,” Ferraro said, adding they sold several of his large flag paintings within the first several weeks.
The couple plans to host many events at the gallery, including participating in this weekend’s Holiday Stroll and an opening reception on Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m.