Wilton Manors Art Gallery Celebrates the Male Art Form
Gallery XO is a smart little gallery in Wilton Manors.
Since Dec. 2008, Tommy Lafashia and Maciel Cantelmo - once life partners, now business partners and best friends - used their complimentary talents to make Gallery XO a success: Resident artist Cantelmo produces much of the art and Lafashia does the marketing and promotion.
"Maciel had his first show and we wanted to represent ourselves instead of being in someone else's gallery," Lafashia said. "We weren't really ready to do it but when the space became available we went ahead and jumped in with both feet without having any gallery experience when we started it. I think what made it good for us is that Maciel draws and I am on the marketing end so we can do it. If he had to do the marketing he probably couldn't have his own gallery because it's kind of hard for the artist to have a gallery."
Though small, Gallery XO is packed from floor to ceiling with hundreds of art works, most of them displaying and celebrating the male art form.
Born in Brazil, Cantelmo specializes in pencil drawings that bring photo-realism to a whole new level.
"Drawing was a gift awoken from within me by my grandfather," he said. "He was the person who woke up this dormant ability in me, and every time he came to visit, I impatiently asked him to draw his stick figures and animals from ordinary numbers on any piece of paper I had available. I tried to copy him, and I became pretty good at it."
"At fifteen I became aware of other artists, and I was influenced by their brush strokes, styles, colors, perspective, structure, form, etc. My favorites are Michelangelo, Dali, Rubens, Van Gogh and Picasso. Each one offered me a new vision of what was in their minds and spirit. Each one made me see and feel the world differently. That difference, is what I feel when I am drawing or painting, for it is my refuge, my escape, my world."
Though Cantelmo specializes in pencil drawings of nude men, he also does "animals and landscapes. I don't do as many oil paintings as I should but I like oil paintings. Not all of my male nudes are drawings. I have done a couple of oil paintings of male nudes but I prefer to paint in pencil." Maciel's work has been getting a low of exposure lately, including a write-up in the popular Art of Man quarterly. He was also awarded 1st Place in Show from the Broward Art Guild and Arts United for his drawing "Handful." Gallery X has literally hundreds of pieces by its resident artist. Those who can't afford his originals may buy some of his limited-edition prints, which Gallery X sells for as low as $15.
Maciel Cantelmo is not the only artist represented by Gallery XO.
According to Lafashia, "when people saw the type of gallery we had a lot of artists come in and asked to be part of it and we picked the ones we thought were good."
Gallery XO currently represents a dozen artists, including painters Michael Breyette, Henry Ri-Ri Clark, Eduardo Garcia, Chris Lopez, Leonardo Montoya and leather sculptor Rick Esping. Though most of the art here is by and about men, Gallery XO also has bronze sculptures by Kelly Borsheim. Gallery XO was already representing painter Steve Walker when he passed away last year.
James Lyman, owner of the Lyman-Eyer Gallery in Provincetown and executor of the Walker estate, "made an estate decision as to who was going to carry" Walker's unsold art. Because of his decision, today the only galleries that are authorized to sell Steve Walker originals are the Lyman-Eyer Gallery, the Ginger Bread Square Gallery in Key West, and Gallery XO.
Steve Walker is fondly remembered in "Capolavoro di Uomo: Masterpiece of Man" (Capolavoro Publishing, 370 pages, $89.99), a lavish coffee table book that showcases the male art form. Featured in this "dream team" of gay erotic art are four Gallery XO artists: Cantelmo, Walker, Chris Lopez and Michael Breyette, whose art graces the front cover (one of Cantelmo's own drawings is prominently displayed on the back cover).
Gallery XO is doing its part to promote "Capolavoro di Uomo," selling the book and giving it away to anyone who buys a Maciel Cantelmo original. In addition to this, Gallery XO will host a book signing during Stonewall Summer Pride: Saturday, June 22, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, June 23, from noon to 4 p.m.
"We have been in discussions with the author and we are excited to announce the book signing will take place over Pride Weekend in Wilton Manors," Lafashia said. "At this time, we are contacting many of the artists represented in the book to attend the book signing. This will be a chance to own an incredible book and to have it signed by many of the artists, including the author. We are being told there is a limited number of books, since the first publication is already over 70 percent sold out. This means a chance to own a first edition signed copy of a book sure to become a major collectors dream."
As if all this is not enough, Gallery XO also hosts a free wine tasting the first Friday of each month and takes part in the Wilton Manors Art Walks held on the third Friday of every month (during season).
Otherwise, Gallery XO is open most evenings until 8 p.m. It is worth stopping by, even if you can't afford the art. For more information about Gallery XO, call (954) 213-9797 or visit galleryxo.com.