“We inspired each other.
By Michele Black
Across the street from the Pacific Design Center, and situated on trendy West Hollywood’s famous Melrose Blvd sits Hamilton Selway. A little jewel of a gallery that within its walls houses art pieces from Warhol to Lichtenstein. It was here on Thursday evening, January 8, Hamilton Selway Fine Art presented Julien Havard and two time Tony award winning actress Sutton Foster’s multi -media art exhibit “Front and Center.” Walking through the front door of the gallery the place was jumping with energy, Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough” was playing overhead. I was met by gallerist David Galgano who gave me a quick tour of the gallery “The front of the gallery features Julien’s work, and here is Sutton’s. And then there is the galleries own art pieces that are available for purchase here in the back. Please enjoy a drink, Julien and Sutton should be arriving shortly.”
Galgano explained with a smile and then he was off to greet the arriving guests.I could feel the anticipation in the air as I wandered back toward the front of the gallery and stopped for a glass of wine. I noticed that Sutton Foster wasn’t the only Tony winner whose art was represented by Hamilton Selway. Tony award winner John Lloyd Young of Jersey Boys fame had two of his pieces on display as well! Everyone was waiting the arrival of Julien Havard and Sutton Foster. The atmosphere was upbeat and light. As I made my way back to the entrance, I turned around and to the left, my eyes caught a glimpse of what I would later find out to be among one of Havard’s favorite art pieces called “LOOKIN HOT.” The explosion of color-yellow, purple, green and pink appeared to leap out at me. It is just an extraordinary piece of art work that just draws you in from the moment you lay eyes on it. The color explosion didn’t end there it raced down the entire length of the wall like a bolt of electricity. Each image possessing its own eye catching vibrant color scheme. I couldn’t take my eyes off the stunning images in front of me. I felt as if my eyes were traveling at lightening speed, racing down the length of the wall, and jumping to the center wall where two of Havard’s gorgeous pieces were hanging.
Then suddenly, as quickly as it started, the intensity of color stopped dead at the center wall. Giving way to a lighter, peaceful display of artwork. There tucked away in the little center alcove off to the right was the ever so gentle, touch of sweetness, and whimsy art work of Sutton Foster. Each piece represented a memory of something or someone or something near and dear to her heart: Images of past roles played on Broadway, an image of Julien her dear friend, Aslan from Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe and many more.
As I turned away from Foster’s art work. Havard and Foster came through the door and were immediately met by Galgano. Havard would later tell me that he and Foster were so excited by what they saw and how beautiful Galgano had hung their art work that they were acting like “geeks.” This made me laugh because I did notice how excited they both were as they came through the door. Foster’s hands went up to her face in excitement as she kept telling Galgano that she loved what he did in positioning her art work “ I gave you this little space right over here, just like you asked me too.” Galgano told her “Yes, I love it! Thank you so much!” Foster said to Galgano as he showed her where her art would be hanging for the exhibit.
Havard and Foster are so genuine and down to earth. Just a real joy to interview. Unpretentious and light hearted. When Foster’s assistant introduced them to me. They were gracious enough to give me a few minutes of their time before their exhibit began. I just loved interviewing them. When I asked them is there any questions that they haven’t been asked Ad nauseum? Both were hilarious in answering “No, we’ve pretty much been asked just about everything” HAHA! So, they agreed to tell me how their relationship began, and what or who inspired them to do their art:
Sutton how did you meet Julien?
“I met Julien when he became my dresser in 2002, we’ve done 6 Broadway shows together, and he has been my longest relationship. He knows my best, my worst! The good, the bad, the ugly. He has always been there for me. He knows when I am struggling, he just always knows. We’re like family.”
This is for both of you, Can you tell me how you came about doing Art together and what inspired you?
Julien: “We inspired each other. Working two shows a day on Broadway, there’s a lot of down time. So, I would draw to pass the time.”
Foster: “I’d see Julien creating his artwork and I decided to try it as well.” We’d be doing two shows a day and so we’d have what we called “craft day” and we’d throw ideas around at each other. I’d ask Julien what should I draw and he’s say “Draw a Shrimp on a skate board, and so I would. He’d ask me “What should I draw?” and I’d say “Draw an asparagus with panties” and he’d draw it!” We just had a lot of fun creating together. We’re both creative people so we learned from each other.”
Sutton take a moment and tell me about your art work. Have you always been interested in creating art pieces?
“I was always drawing as a kid. I’d be on long road trips and so I’d draw. I’m self taught. A lot of my stuff came out of my own neurosis. I needed an outlet of creativity. So, I started doing these drawings when Julien and I would do our craft days. I’d do a unicorn and a lot of whimsical art. I tried to be dark and edgy. It just didn’t work for me. What I do takes a lot of patience, but I love doing it.”
Julien, I know you said that you and Sutton inspire each other. However, you’ve been doing your art since before you met Sutton. Could you tell me a bit about what inspired you before you two met?
“I’ve been cultivating my creative side since I was a teen. I went to art school for a hot minute in London when I was 20.After London, I eventually moved to NYC. Jimmy Rizzi, the artist was inspiring to me at an early stage and then the life in the theatre has been a never ending supply of creative subjects.
Julien, how did you feel about leaving Broadway to venture out to follow your dream of becoming an artist?
Julien: You have to do what is right for you. I just knew it was time to go. I said to myself “You have got to do this, and do this now!” And here I am! So, it was the right decision for me.
Sutton: It was hard to let him go, but I knew he’d do well. He’s talented. I’m happy for him.
Thank you Julien and Sutton for taking a minute with me, it looks like you’ve got company!
Julien and Sutton: It was nice meeting you Michele. Thanks!
I caught up with Havard via email the next day and asked him how the show went after I left? Which of the paintings that were there in his collection were his favorites? And who all showed up?
Havard wrote, “It was a 100% success for all involved. Sales were made and the energy was head spinning! I personally love 2 pieces of mine. One is called LOOKIN HOT and the other is US AGAINST THE WORLD. They are bigger paintings than the others and they’re full of energy. Oh. And I love painting the furniture! There were easily 200 plus in and out that evening. Lots of TV executives like the head of DreamWorks and TV land and film directors and Broadway performers, choreographers, some are in town to shoot a movie. (I can’t bring myself to name drop) but that why we’re so fabulous!! Hahaha!!It was a “this is your life” kinda of night for both of us.”
They both are absolutely fabulous. Head over to Hamilton Selway and check out this incredible exhibit. Stand outs for me of Havard’s end of the exhibit, definitely the furniture! Would love to have them in my home! They are truly gorgeous! My favorite of Foster’s are her “Millie, Fiona, Reno and Violet” pieces based off her Broadway performances as each character. All pieces on exhibit in Front and Center are available for acquisition at the gallery.
What: Front and Center exhibit featuring Julien Havard and Sutton Foster
Where: Hamilton Selway
8678 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood, Ca
When: January 8 – 24, 2015