A new gallery specializing in “lowbrow” art has opened in the heart of the city of Fairfax.
The Artbot Gallery is located within Marlowe Ink, a tattoo shop on Fairfax’s Main Street.
Lowbrow art, also known as pop surrealism, is an art movement that started in the 1970s and has ties to subcultures like hotrods, underground comics and rock music.
“It’s not mainstream, it’s not fine art,” said Artbot Gallery curator Kari Kilcullen. Those cultural ties make the gallery a natural fit to share space with a tattoo studio, she said.
Kilcullen, who teaches at a Montessori school in Prince William County and is also the personal assistant to Marlowe Ink owner James Marlowe, said she has enjoyed art, and particularly the lowbrow style, for some time.
“I can’t draw at all, so this is the next best thing,” she said.
She had been thinking of opening a gallery elsewhere when Marlowe offered her the use of some space that the tattoo shop wasn’t really using, and she jumped at the chance.
For its first exhibit, the gallery is featuring work by a variety of pop surrealist artists to showcase the variety of the style.
“There is a whole spectrum of art out there,” Kilcullen said.
In the future, she said, the gallery will likely have shows featuring a single artist as well as themed shows. Artbot also has two house artists, Michael Brown and Liz Carroll, who will be featured prominently in the gallery, Kilcullen said.
She acquired art by contacting artists that she likes and requesting pieces for the gallery. She also got advice from a friend and mentor who runs a gallery in Los Angeles, as well as house artists Brown and Carroll, who have exhibited all over the country. “They could tell us what a gallery should and shouldn’t be doing,” Kilcullen said.
The gallery had its soft opening this month and Kilcullen is planning a larger opening event in January, after some additional artwork arrives. The gallery is open from 1 to 9 p.m. on Saturdays, and by appointment.