FALL RIVER — Dean Diogo has an eye for beauty in the Fall River area, and is bringing that to the opening of a new art space.
Diogo, a professional photographer, is preparing to open Garage Gallery on Thompson Street off President Avenue, just around the corner from Ledoux & Co. salon and spa. Diogo and his crew are nearly done with renovating a mechanic’s garage to create a space where he can display and sell his photos and feature other artists’ work.
“I just want to give people an opportunity to buy affordable art and not have to spend, especially the way things are going today,” Diogo said.
Diogo has dozens upon dozens of high-quality photos that depict the area’s beauty — sunsets sparkling on the Taunton River, landscapes dark and lush, the icons of Fall River’s skyline — printed on paper, canvas, or behind acrylic. They’ll be hanging up for viewing and for people to buy and beautify their own homes.
His work is currently hanging inside Government Center, Resiliency Preparatory School and the Cove, among other places, he said, but Garage Gallery would be a place for visitors to see what he has to offer and bring home a piece of their own, to “give a person an opportunity to have Fall River art in their home.”
A Fall River native, Diogo said he spent 12 years living and working in Los Angeles, part of the time as an editor at a post-production house.
“Living in California opened up my eyes to the art scene,” he said. “Fall River doesn’t have anything like this. I just think it’s time. Why Providence, why Boston — why not us?”
Seeing art come to life
Like Fall River itself, Garage Gallery has some visible remnants of its industrial past, but it’s in transition. He’s covered with clear material a trench once used by mechanics that runs the width of one room. Diogo has filled the space with speakers that pipe in music, and built clean white walls that make his frames pop. In one corner, he’s built a bar – he said he envisions Garage Gallery offering coffee, pastry and other drinks. He’s also thinking about organizing paint nights, having multiple art shows a month, or renting out the space for other artists to hold shows.
“My goal is to get artists in here to work on a commission basis or to rent a wall,” Diogo said.
He’s currently working with Beth Scanlon Melfi at Silver Hippopotamus Gallery in Swansea, who has placed several paintings, artifacts and pieces of furniture at the gallery for sale.
Diogo is a one-man band. After shooting photos — sometimes in the wee hours, to get the kind of natural light he’s looking for — he edits them on a computer workstation just upstairs from the gallery, in the loft accessible by a wrought-iron spiral staircase. He owns industrial-size printers that can reproduce images on paper or canvas or other materials. And he frames them or mounts them on stretcher bars that he designs and builds himself.
“It’s a big investment to do all this, but unless you give it a shot you’re never going to know,” Diogo said.
He said the renovations are nearly complete, and he’s hoping for Garage Gallery to be open by Black Friday, so visitors can buy some local art for holiday gifts.
“It’s going to be interesting just to see it all come to life,” he said. “We’re trying to give back, trying to give an opportunity for someone who wouldn’t be able to experience this.”