Experience the creative magic of some of your favorite musicians
By Sue Baldani
Many of us remember when we first attended a concert and saw our favorite rock artist. Maybe we bought a t-shirt or a poster to bring home to remember the incredible experience.
Now, Wentworth Gallery offers an amazing way to connect with some of our favorite rock and roll artists in an even more tangible way. “What really started it was when we began working with Paul Stanley from Kiss about 15 to 20 years ago,” says Christian O’Mahony, owner of Wentworth Gallery. “He’s very creative in a lot of different areas and artwork for him was therapeutic. He never really thought about it as a commercial venture.”
When Christian saw his paintings and realized how talented he was, he wanted to represent him. “We started doing shows with Paul and they were immensely successful. A lot of people were buying his paintings, some without knowing who Kiss was or who were not really into the music. It was the artwork itself that really touched them.”
Word got out and Christian started picking up other musical artists such as Michael Cartellone from Lynyrd Skynyrd and Rick Allen from Def Leppard. “From there we got Mickey Hart from the Grateful Dead, Brian Wheat from Tesla, Charlie Benante from Anthrax, and the late Ric Ocasek from the Cars. I have his only collection of artwork.”
Christian has become the go-to person for successful musicians and even celebrities who have a passion for art and want to expand into this avenue. “First and foremost, they have to be good artists, and secondly, they have to understand that art shows are a little bit different than rock and roll meet and greets. They are more personal and much more intimate.”
This is a major component of what makes Wentworth Gallery stand out. “It’s a combination of the art in some way touching them, but it’s also the incredible experience that somebody could have with someone they’ve admired artistically.”
So, if a customer were to purchase a painting done by, say, Rick Allen, either at a show or beforehand, when Allen comes to the gallery, they get to meet him. “They spend real time with him,” says Christian. “They might even have dinner afterwards.”
Wentworth has also offered private concerts for buyers. “I’ve done that with Paul Stanley and Rick Allen,” he says. “More recently, I’ve done it with one of my new artists, legendary solo guitarist Joe Satriani. If you’re a fan of Joe and you really like his artwork, you not only get a beautiful painting, but you also get to sit through a private concert. Or, if you purchase one of his paintings on a guitar, perhaps you would actually go up on stage with him and jam.
“We offer these lifetime experiences. So, it’s not just a beautiful painting on a wall; it actually has a story behind it.”
Wentworth Gallery has 10 galleries up and down the East Coast, and Christian plans to have more incredible shows coming up in the next year at the Mall at Short Hills location. “I expect Rick Allen, Paul Stanley, and Joe Satriani all to make appearances.”
Artwork, he says, is a lifetime acquisition. “It’s different than buying a shirt or a pair of pants. It’s for you; it’s for your family.” And, it can be acquired by people of all backgrounds; it’s not just for the wealthy. “We have many different price points, and we also offer 24 months interest-free financing with no money down to make it affordable for almost everybody.”
One of the reasons why many Wentworth Gallery locations are in malls, he explains, is that he wants people to feel comfortable coming in. “When people are walking down a street and see an art gallery, they might feel intimidated. So, we try to take down the walls and not have people feel like they need an art degree to walk in.”
Another factor that makes Wentworth stand out is its white-glove service. “When you’re at a gallery and something catches your eye, you might have a hard time envisioning what it would look like in your house,” says Christian. “You don’t know if it’s going to be too big or too small. You don’t know if your spouse is going to like it.”
In order to make the decision easier, Wentworth offers what they call a Home Show. “We bring the artwork within 25 miles of any of our galleries without any financial obligation. We can also hang them for you, and at that point you can decide which pieces, if any, you would like to purchase. It really takes away the anxiety.” They will also come and hang the piece if you just purchase it from the gallery.
To see these rock and roll and other incredible artists, go to www.wentworthgallery.com.
Written for Chatham & Short Hills Lifestyle magazine in New Jersey.