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New gallery gets the nod

M2 knows its ABCs.

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MURPHY AND MAGEE: The 2 behind winning gallery.
  • MURPHY AND MAGEE: The 2 behind winning gallery.

It's been open only 16 months, but M2 Gallery has already won the title from the readers of the Arkansas Times of the best place to buy art in Little Rock. There are several galleries in town of whom that might be said, so M2 must be doing something right.

Mac Murphy, co-owner and one of the Ms of M2, credits the gallery's early success to the business as well as aesthetic acumen he and co-owner John Magee bring to the enterprise. Both men have gallery backgrounds — Murphy in Kentucky and Fayetteville, Magee with Gallery B in Little Rock. Magee's family is in the picture molding business.

M2 is located in the upscale Pleasant Ridge Town Center in West Little Rock and it draws its customers from the area, though “people are scaling the wall from the Heights to get here” as well, Murphy said. (“They're always shocked” at the quality, he said as an aside.)

The gallery represents 25 artists, including local lights — V.L. Cox, whose paintings are its biggest seller; fire-fighting painter Jason Gammel and conceptual artist Catherine Siri Nugent among them — and Argentina artist Maxim Lipzer, whose work Murphy has collected for years. Florida and Mississippi artists are represented at M2 as well. M2 recruited artists at first; now artists are seeking out the gallery, Murphy said. Work by Gammel and Fayetteville fable painter Nathan Beatty was the focus of a recent show.

“People are kind of starved for something new and fresh,” Murphy said of the Little Rock market. He expected “a little bit of resistance” to the less traditional artwork the gallery shows — like that of Lipzer, for example, whose blend of abstract and representational elements includes social commentary. M2s customers lean toward that sort of work and are interested in abstraction as well, Murphy said.

Prices at M2 generally range from $50 (for glass objects) to $7,000; some sculpture is pricier. 

“We've been pleasantly surprised so far” with business, Murphy said.

He and Magee are developing a plan to market artists to other galleries nationwide and will expand their website, M2LR.com. It's M2LR, Murphy said, because “we don't plan on this being the only M2.”

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