Mehmet Altug at Cool Colors Gallery in Carytown (Photo by Ash Daniel)
Easy and simple. That’s the goal for artist Mehmet Sahin Altug in his new Carytown gallery, Cool Colors. Altug opened his shop in August 2015 as a successor to his first Richmond venture, the Bainbridge Art Center. With nearly 10,000 square feet of space shared by various artists, Bainbridge was a big undertaking in an area that is still up-and-coming. Altug enjoyed that experience, but when a developer approached him to purchase the building, an opportunity presented itself: Altug was able to relocate to Carytown, an established retail area, and minimize time spent on management tasks. “This is a perfect location,” he says. “This is like a gift … it’s a dream come true.”
Cool Colors showcases Altug’s distinctive art, recognizable by its bright, saturated hues, reminders of what he saw as a child on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. He’s translated that experience into paintings, many featuring birds and other animals and insects drenched in light and color. “That’s where the name for the gallery comes from,” he says.
Altug makes the most of the space. A small shop at the rear of the store, Half Past Noon, features handmade jewelry made by Didi Chisholm. Colorful glass fan pulls, jewelry Altug found on a recent trip to Turkey, and other offerings by local and regional artists are displayed throughout the store. Altug’s own work is available in many sizes and formats: canvases, limited-edition prints, notecards. The idea, he says, is to make art accessible for all — regardless of budget or living environment. “Some people have limited space,” he notes. “And a print is a good entry point.”
Most of all, Altug is enjoying the convenience of his new life. He lives near the gallery and he has a small studio just steps from the back door, where he paints daily. Lucy, his resident cat, keeps him company during the day and greets visitors. “I enjoy my life here,” he says. “I try to make everything simple and easy.”