Arts / Galleries

Late Night Pie Makes an Arty Houston Splash: When a Slice of Cherry Helps Sell a Painting

BY Craig Lindsey // 11.16.17

Once a month, the Montrose-based, artist co-op known as Archway Gallery invites people to visit the establishment, browse the inventory and converse with the artists who are on hand. In order to do this, the gallery offers something even more enticing: Pie!

Called “Late Night Pie” (although the event usually happens from 6 to 9 p.m.), these people lay out pies of various tastes: cherry, pizza, even cheesecakes. When the gallery is done with business hours, that’s when they call up Dominos, the Pepperoni’s on Montrose or whatever pizzeria is nearby and stock up on pizzas, baked goods, beer and wine, in the hopes that people will show up for the free food — but stick around for the local art.

“Pie” is the brainchild of painter/printmaker Kevin Cromwell, one of the 32 artists who currently own and operate Archway, a gallery that’s been around for 40 years. Sure, Archway puts on various events – exhibits, readings, live-music performances, dinners – in order to drum up foot traffic. But Cromwell insists “Pie” is for people who don’t regularly frequent art galleries.

“Art openings are really good, right?” asks Cromwell. “I’m not gonna say anything bad about art openings. But they tend to be sort of like, you know, you put on your nice clothes and you come in. You’re in the crowd. It has a certain cache, I guess, going on about it.

‘Late Night Pie’ is really supposed to be more low-key. The artists are here. The viewing public is here. We’re interacting.

Since it’s been around for the past year, “Pie” patrons haven’t regularly scooped up the ready-for-purchase pieces. However, some artists have had a blast interacting with curious folk about their work. “I’m not sure that I, myself, have benefitted a great deal,” says abstract artist Donna E. Perkins.

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“But the time I’ve been there has been fun. That particular venue appeals more to just impulse buy. In a way, it’s very casual.”

The next “Pie” will go down on Saturday, November 25, a post-Thanksgiving happening which will offer pizza, fruit pies and, yes, turkey pies.

Whatever it takes to bring people in and embrace art that is happening right in their city, Cromwell will serve it up.

“Hopefully, my goal of Late Night Pie is, so that people who wouldn’t necessarily feel comfortable walking into a gallery and just asking about art — because they don’t know a lot about art or things like that — to set up a situation where they’re walking around, they bump into the artist, they sit there and they have a conversation,” he says.

“And, now, they’re more at ease and they can learn about the art and the artist and what goes on.”

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