The organized, colorful chaos of abstract artist DM Weil’s New Paltz art studio speaks volumes of her work.
Paint tubes of all different hues, tones, shades and qualities—ranging from college-student cheap to established-artist expensive—line shelves on the walls and tables on the ground. It is a relatively small, dim space, but DM Weil’s style fills it with life. An unfinished piece on canvas lays to the side, and it comes time to wonder what comes of all this paint.
The answer is no more than 50 feet away. DM Weil Gallery, located at 208 New Bruynswick Rd. in New Paltz, exclusively displays and sells Weil’s abstract paintings.
“We have a lot of students that come in and buy prints for their dorm,” Weil said. “I really like for anyone who likes the work to be able to buy something.”
Stepping through the front door feels like stepping into an art shop in Manhattan. There is a rustic and hip vibe among the crates of prints and racks of gifts for sale that gives it a true city-feel, all before walking into the main gallery. This is no coincidence.
Weil grew up in the Bronx and had a passion for drawing in her youth. However, it wasn’t until she was older and living Manhattan that her love of art crept back into her life. In fact, before opening DM Weil Gallery in New Paltz, she opened Gallery 721 in Manhattan. She was a musician on the city streets for a time, as well.
“Art was always close to my heart, and I just knew I’d get back to it in some way,” she said. “I didn’t know what form—I mean, I was not an abstract painter or anything like that when I was younger—but that’s what developed when I got older.”
Weil began painting in the early 2000s and built her New Paltz studio in 2004. She developed a love for acrylics on canvas, playing with layering, color and movement. And as she did, others developed a desire for her work. This is when she opened the New York City gallery—in 2006.
“I’d just paint for myself and [someone] came to the studio and said ‘I really like this, I want to buy it,’” she said “And so that’s how it all started.”
DM Weil Gallery was built in 2010 and opened in summer of 2011. Weil decided to set up shop in New Paltz partly because of its proximity to the college.
“There’s a lot of new energy, a lot of professors and a lot of real people doing their work. It’s not just tourists, there’s a balance of different kinds of people.”
Walking into the gallery space adjacent to the front room is like taking a breath of fresh air. The room is a wide, open museum style, with Weil’s bold, vibrant pieces lining the four walls. A couple of chic red couches sit peacefully in the middle. A piano and small bar set-up ornament the space. The lighting is pristine, and the walls echo as Weil speaks about her work.
A self-described colorist, Weil plays with bright color, movement and texture in her pieces. They range from calming monotone to bursting with color. The active-minded artist does not draw out her pieces beforehand, but rather works on instinct and feeling.
“No two pieces are exactly alike,” she said. “Everything is done through brush or instruments. I have an impression of what I might want to do, so that day I might feel like taking out three colors or I might take out every color that I have.”
Weil mentions that she goes through phases of techniques, recently doing the laborious work of squirting whole paint tubes onto the canvas. Though abstract and spontaneous, her paintings are also extremely thoughtful and elicit all kinds of emotion.
“There is something to be able to stand in front of a huge blank canvas with no reference point and create something from nothing,” Weil said. “It’s quite challenging to balance out the canvas in terms of a cohesive theme.”
Two paintings, entitled “Over the Garden Wall” and “The World That Comes Between Us,” share the theme of relationships and human connection. They depict figures with symbols between them, representing the busyness of everyday life and struggle to stay connected with others.
The gallery has helped Weil to escape the isolation of her work and exist in a public space, connecting with the community. While she felt vulnerable displaying her work so candidly at first, she has gotten comfortable with it over the years. She holds events at the gallery from time to time and typically spends her weekends there to meet with visitors who stop in. Admission is free, and prints are as low as $10. Weil expresses an appreciation for being able to make a living of her passion.
“I really feel when I’m painting, I’m at peace. I’m in the zone,” she said. “I do it for me, and it’s really a bonus that people actually like the work.”