Art Beyond Boundaries: Thriving Outside the Art Capitals

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By: Rowynn Dumont

In the rich tapestry of artistic expression, where metropolises like New York, Paris, and London often bask in the limelight as the epicenters of creative genius, the brilliance of innovation knows no geographical bounds. In the beating hearts of lesser-celebrated locales, we unearth the authentic alchemists of artistry, quietly weaving their masterpieces in the shadows of conventional capitals. In this voyage of revelation, we embark on the odysseys of three extraordinary artisans: Angel Espino from Denver, Colorado; Lenor Bingham from Portland, Oregon; and Lina Husseini from Beirut, Lebanon.

Angel Espino, Lenor Bingham, and Lina Husseini
Angel Espino, Lenor Bingham, and Lina Husseini

Angel Espino, a burgeoning abstract expressionist artist, hails from Denver, Colorado, a city far removed from the bustling art capitals of the world. He describes his art as an evolution over a period of time “into an integration of personal narrative, method, and message. Using creative expression as a means of self-exploration, I developed my signature style.”

Angel Espino
Angel Espino, Water Lillies, 2023, acrylic on wood panel, 30″ x 24″

Angel acknowledges that the path to recognition in a smaller city presents unique challenges. According to him, one significant drawback is the limited access to high-end galleries and discerning collectors.

Inhabitants of art capitals, like celestial magnets, often draw the attention of patrons and aficionados, leaving artists in smaller cities yearning for recognition. Yet, in this isolation lies a certain allure. Artists can more easily cultivate their name and reputation in these lesser-known cities. With reduced competition and a closely-knit artistic community, emerging talents can shine without overshadowing the clamor of major art scenes.

Angel Espino employs a blend of traditional and digital strategies to maintain connections with curators, galleries, and fellow artists. He periodically contacts collectors to inform them about his upcoming events and exhibitions. His toolkit spans from old-school methods like phone calls to contemporary platforms such as Instagram and personal websites, ensuring a robust online presence.

Lenor Bingham, an artist nestled in the artistic haven of Portland, Oregon, offers insights into the rewards and challenges of residing outside a significant art capital. She states, “My palette varies intuitively depending on my emotions or surroundings. Paint has its own path, and I tend to follow where it wants to flow.”

Lenor emphasizes the hurdles of establishing connections with distant art hubs. The costs associated with shipping artwork to remote galleries and exhibitions can be prohibitive. Some galleries in significant art capitals impose exorbitant fees due to the high price of real estate, further burdening artists from smaller cities.

Lenor Birham
Lenor Bingham, Our Body, 2022, mixed media on paper, 30″ x 22″

Nevertheless, Lenor acknowledges the unique opportunities that arise in smaller art communities. The fierce competition for exhibition space compels artists like her to engage with their local surroundings actively. They participate in community events, fairs, and exhibitions, treating each opportunity as a stepping stone to success. Local exhibitions often come with more accessible participation fees, making it easier for emerging artists to showcase their work.

Like many contemporary artists, Lenor Bingham leverages the Internet and social media to maintain connections with galleries and curators. Platforms like Instagram are valuable tools for exhibiting her art and reaching a global audience. She underscores the importance of keeping her narrative concise and art-focused, avoiding oversharing personal details. Her online approach is marked by humor and levity, creating an engaging digital presence.

Our artistic pilgrimage now leads us to Beirut, Lebanon, where Lina Husseini‘s creative journey unfolds. Regarding her artistic practice, she states, “I am driven by a profusion of spontaneous ideas that compel me to transform them into sculptures, day and night. Inspired by sentences, situations, and the world around me, my creations become a vibrant expression of emotions and boundless imagination through shapes and colors.”

Lina Husseini

Lina Husseini, Belonging, 2023,
painted PVC, 15.5″ x 10.5″ x 7″

While steeped in history and culture, Beirut rarely garners the distinction of an art capital. Lina underscores the limitations of being an artist outside a recognized art hub—quality galleries are scarce, and artists must continuously entice art enthusiasts to attend exhibitions. The art market in such locales tends to be smaller and more restrictive.

However, there are silver linings to this situation. Artists beyond major art capitals can develop their craft without the overwhelming influence of prevailing art world trends. They enjoy the freedom to explore their creativity away from the pressures of an art capital, allowing their distinct voices to flourish.

Through active participation in exhibitions, art venues, and consistent gallery visits, Lina Husseini remains deeply connected to curators, galleries, and fellow artists. These interactions enable her to showcase her works and foster relationships within the art community. She adopts a multifaceted approach in her art business, sharing her artworks on Instagram, her website, local art galleries, and solo or group exhibitions. Lina extends her reach by participating in exhibitions abroad, particularly in recognized art capitals

The narratives of Angel Espino, Lenor Bingham, and Lina Husseini paint a vivid picture of artists thriving beyond the realm of significant art capitals. They highlight that while challenges exist, opportunities and advantages abound. These artists have carved unique paths, forging connections with their communities, collectors, and the broader art world.

Angel Espino at work in his Denver studio
Angel Espino at work in his Denver studio

Their artistic philosophies and approaches mirror their journeys. Angel Espino, driven by a desire to capture life’s fleeting moments and channel emotions into his art, aspires to inspire the next generation of artists while spreading positivity through his vibrant creations. Lenor Bingham’s work, characterized by intricate textures and hues, bridges her inner world and the profound emotions it evokes in viewers. Inspired by spontaneous ideas and feelings, Lina Husseini employs her sculptures to convey critical messages and ignite the imagination.

In their pursuit of success, these artists blend traditional and contemporary strategies. They actively engage with their communities and utilize digital platforms to showcase their art. For instance, Angel Espino reaches out to collectors through phone calls, social media, and websites. Lenor Bingham harnesses Instagram to promote her art and connect with fellow artists.

Despite the challenges, these artists derive immense satisfaction from their creative endeavors. Angel Espino’s art enables him to positively impact the world by donating proceeds to charitable causes. Lenor Bingham finds joy in witnessing viewers’ emotional responses to her work, reaffirming art’s power to forge profound connections. Lina Husseini’s journey reached a significant milestone when her sculptures were acquired by an accredited museum in the USA, showcasing the universal appeal of her creations.

Angel Espino
Angel Espino at the Stymie Canine Cancer Foundation

The artistic evolution of these individuals is marked by resilience, determination, and unwavering commitment to their craft. Angel Espino’s journey involved exploring various disciplines and styles before discovering his unique artistic voice. Lenor Bingham broke free from societal expectations to embrace her true calling as an artist. Lina Husseini’s journey is characterized by fearless exploration of materials and techniques, resulting in a diverse body of work.

These artists draw inspiration from a variety of sources and artistic movements. Angel Espino finds resonance with the American Abstract Expressionist Movement, embracing its ethos of spontaneous expression. Lenor Bingham identifies primarily with Modernism and Abstract Expressionism, drawn to their color, technique, and emotional exploration. Lina Husseini avoids strict labels, allowing her art to flow freely and authentically from her intuition.

Lenor Birham
Lenor Bingham in front of her paintings at the opening of A Little Serendipity, at Agora Gallery

Their commitment to their local communities and social causes is evident in their philanthropic endeavors. Angel Espino collaborates with local charities to support causes ranging from veterans with PTSD to disabled individuals seeking outdoor adventures. Lenor Bingham intertwines her artwork with her restaurant, providing a unique dining experience while showcasing her creations. Lina Husseini donates her sculptures to benefit recovery efforts and humanitarian causes, exemplifying the transformative power of art.

Lina Husseini
Lina Husseini and her sculpture at the Outside the Box exhibition at Agora Gallery

In conclusion, the stories of Angel Espino, Lenor Bingham, and Lina Husseini offer a compelling narrative of artists flourishing outside significant art capitals. A profound connection to their craft marks their journeys, a commitment to their communities, and a relentless pursuit of their artistic visions. These artists remind us that art transcends geographical boundaries and that creativity can thrive anywhere, leaving an indelible mark on the world.

Rowynn Dumont is a New York artist, curator, and writer. She is the Co-founder of Black Rainbow Media (NY). She holds an MPhil (IDSVA), an MFA (AAU), and a BFA in Studies of Taboo Religions & Sexuality in Art from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Rowynn’s work can be seen internationally at DOX Contemporary (Praha) and the Fowler Museum (Los Angeles). She has lectured at CAA (DTLA), the Paris School of Art, and The Sexology Institute (San Antonio).


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