Lanny Ross calls himself “The Man of Colours,” and if you walk into his studio you’ll understand why. Large, bright abstract oil and acrylic paintings inspired by Ross’s career in
travel hang from floor to ceiling in his corner of the second-floor of an old warehouse on West Hampden Avenue in south St. Anthony Park.
Just feet away from Ross’s easels and paints is the work of Ross’s longtime friend and studio mate Richard Dillon. A mix of expressionistic and often humorous pieces, Dillon describes his work as “art with a grin.”
The two met their freshman year at Cretin High School in St. Paul in 1952. Neither of them picked up a paintbrush or sketchpad at the Catholic military school, which offered no art classes.
Dillon, a former ad agency owner, discovered his bent for art while working on an advertising degree in the journalism department at the University of Minnesota. Dillon’s painting “W.B. Yeats & Me” hangs at the Dubliner Pub on University Avenue and Vandalia Street. Ross says he never took an art class. He just started splashing paint onto canvasses, he says, sometime during his travel career, which took him to China, Southeast Asia, the South Pacific and French Polynesia.
After reconnecting at Cretin functions years ago, Ross and Dillon founded the West Hampden Artists (WHA) at 2281 W. Hampden Ave. in 2004. Now, 14 years later, they will hold a three-day grand opening of the 2281 Art Gallery April 27-29, the first of what they promise will be a somewhat regular series of exhibits with guest artistsand from time to time other “big hoopla,” Ross says.
The gallery’s first show will feature abstract artist Bret Anderson. The work of the six WHA artists will be showcased in their studios next to the gallery. The artists include portrait and plein aire painter Philip Alexander Carlton, writer and illustrator Brooke Dierkhising, graphic designer and abstract painter Jas McCroskey, post-modern and abstract painter and sculptor John Vieno, Ross and Dillon.
The opening weekend will include evening receptions and a drawing Sunday for a painting by Ross. Event co-promoting partner, Urban Growler, will provide two-for-one beer coupons throughout the weekend. The coupons will be redeemable at brewery, located just a couple of blocks away on Endicott Street. Urban Growler will feature work from WHA the weeks leading up to the gallery opening.
The 2281 Art Gallery will be open Friday, April 27, from 4 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, April 28, noon to 8 p.m.; and Sunday, April 29, noon to 5 p.m. The gallery is located in south St. Anthony Park’s warehouse area and offers economical art gallery space to emerging artists. The gallery promotes contemporary and abstract art but welcomes all art mediums.