Husband and wife James and Debra Ferrari have been curating their paintings and sculptures since 2004. It was New Year’s Day in 2017 that they decided to move their gallery and studios to one of the coolest art hubs in the United States. After eight months of looking at buildings, they found the perfect gallery space on Dragon Street in the Design District.
“It is great to share the inspirations and concepts behind each piece, along with the creative processes about our art with our collectors and curious newcomers on a personal level,” Debra Ferrari says. “The gallery allows us to do this. Art is personal, and we want people to have an art experience.”
She likes to tell stories, evoke emotions and uplift spaces through her realistic and abstract atmospheric oil and acrylic paintings, while James Ferrari creates bold abstract, representational and contemporary sculptures by marrying Ferrari car parts with other metals.
From an early age both artists were infatuated with art, each following their own path. Debra Ferrari won her first art award at the age of 5 for an 8-inch by 11-inch abstract acrylic painting on red paper. “It’s always been a part of my DNA,” she says about art. Her work is inspired and influenced by her affection for nature and expresses narratives sometimes deep in meaning, while at other times they convey a mood or place.
After college Ferrari worked in management, succumbing to the social pressure of choosing a “more secure career.” However, she doesn’t regret it, saying: “I am happy that I worked for a large corporation. I learned a great deal. Management and marketing are very important for any career and even more so for a professional, self-employed artist.”
Shortly after her time in the corporate world, Ferrari opened a gallery in her home state of Ohio, where she represented her work in addition to other local artists. Her career took off when she moved to Florida in 1997. “I received numerous public art commissions. My work was published in design trade interior books, and I exhibited my art in group and solo gallery exhibitions,” she says. While in Florida, she met James Ferrari through a mutual friend.
His path to art was more direct; he realized that art was something he couldn’t picture life without. Throughout school he excelled in art classes. “I worked in a sign shop, was a professional graffiti artist and muralist. Continuing my art education on the collegiate level seemed to be a natural progression,” he says. In his final sculpture class, Ferrari made everything out of metal. One of the pieces he created in that class lives on today. “My fourth sculpture piece, titled Victory, a torso made from steel, was purchased by FSU as a permanent public art sculpture for the Bobby E. Leach Center on campus,” he says.
Throughout the years, Ferrari experimented with many different mediums. “I wanted to set my work apart from any other artist, be unique and different,” he says. “This is when I merged my love for Ferrari cars and metalworking.” Although both sides of his family are originally from Italy, there is no connection to the Ferrari automobile marque that he knows of.
“I think what sets my work apart is how I conjugate the juxtaposition of the Ferrari car parts with other metals into representational and abstract sculptures. I have a recognizable style that I achieved and mastered through many years of hard work and experimentation to accomplish,” he says.
While very different, Ferrari Gallery merges James Ferrari’s sculptures and his wife’s paintings. Debra Ferrari says: “We support, encourage, assist and discuss our work with each other on a regular basis.” And, they agree that a mix of mediums adds to the diversity of the gallery.
The couple’s advice to aspiring artists is: “Never give up on the artist inside of you.”
Kasey Goedeker is a Dallas-based freelance writer, social media expert and fashion blogger.