Agave Gallery: Petite space packed with western delights

AGAVE GALLERY owner and artist John Bennett poses with his "Belle Starr" bronze, one of a series of vintage cowgirl statues he made. While Bennett has moved on to other projects, he said the cowgirl bronzes proved popular. Those followed his cowboy artwork. -- Standard-Radio Post/Ken Esten Cooke

By Ken Esten Cooke —

Agave Gallery feels a little bit like your first apartment, as it is on the small side, but the treasures inside spark huge reactions.

Visitors are welcomed to the gallery — housed in an 1880s limestone Sunday house — by a well-kept native plant garden. For 15 years, the building was a wedding chapel. Artist John Bennett and wife Cathy live in what used to be a radiator shop behind the gallery, which they opened eight years ago.

Inside, Bennett’s detailed, flowing sculpture work takes prominence, but the subdivided rooms have artistic delights around each corner.

Bennett’s work is filled with natural-looking, moving subjects, but what is hidden is the meticulous detail and work style of each piece.

“I wish I had a looser style because I could be more productive and prolific, but the style of detail is very time-consuming,” he said. “I’ll spend an average of several months on each piece. I have a lot invested in each one.”

Bennett, who has won many state and national awards with his work, said bronze sculptors are not in sole control of their finished product.

“Bronze artists have a little different challenge because we have to work with a foundry, and we’re trusting other people to replicate our work in the casting process,” he said. “But we have another investment beyond our time and materials, and that’s in the foundry production.”

Before becoming a full-time artist, Bennett worked “several dozen” full-time jobs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. He was in the graphic arts trade, working for the major pre-press companies in Dallas, using his natural eye to work in graphics, color correction, and other press-related work. He said his own artwork today benefits from that background.

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