What comes to mind when you hear the term one-way? Perhaps it’s the frustrating search for a parking spot on Thayer Street’s narrow one-way on a sweltering summer day. Worse yet, you may feel instantly stifled, confined to the claustrophobic parameters of one-way of thinking, creating and living. What a drag, right?
Not so fast. Enter Stephen Cook and his OneWay Galleries. Cook, artist and owner of the OneWay Galleries, together with other contemporary artists, is smashing the traditional black-and-white definition of one-way and replacing it with their own unique version: big, bold, contemporary fine art. They’ve done it in Narragansett and now they’re doing it at Pawtucket’s eclectic Hope Artiste Village.
Cook spent his youth surrounded by a family of overachieving artists. While his sister earned scholarships for her artistic talent and his mother moonlighted as his high school art teacher, Cook resisted art for as long as he could. It wasn’t until college when his art teacher took one look at his paintings and said “you’re doing things I can’t teach you,” that was when the tide turned. Cook explains, “It became my life. I went to museums, I forced myself into shows for professional artists. Once I was turned on to it, I freaked out on it.”
It all started circa 2004 when Cook co-founded the OneWay Gallery with Christian Harder in Narragansett. Harder was a major player in creating the energetic vibe and smooth swagger of the OneWay Gallery. OneWay ‘Gansett,’ as Cook affectionately refers to it, is part artist work space, part gallery, part epic hangout for artists and art lovers alike. The Narragansett location, while successful, was somewhat seasonal. These seasonal highs and lows prompted Cook and Harder to create a pop-up location on Westminster Street in Providence.
The OneWay Gallery pop-up location did exactly that – it popped! What was intended to be a one-month gig, morphed into an eight-month smash hit success. The interest from residents of the Creative Capital inflated Cook’s imaginary thought bubble of “should we open a second location in or around Providence?” with a resounding “hell yes!”
Cook took the helm when Harder departed OneWay Gallery in 2012 to travel the world and pursue his passion of professional photography. Even with all this responsibility, he’s quick to mention that he’s first and foremost a painter, then a gallery owner and most importantly that he’s far from a one-man show.
Cook, who kills his canvases with insanely expressive contemporary art, attributes the success of OneWay to the artists who show their work at the gallery. He says, “Having the shows and showing other artist’s work keeps my art alive and adds to it. Every artist that I show has serious talent. Most deserve to be in a museum one day, some sooner than later.”
OneWay Hope is an art gallery where the wannabe art connoisseur will learn the ins and outs of starting a collection comfortably, without feeling intimidated or inferior. It’s the place where a seasoned art collector can find exceptional contemporary art sans the big city price tag. It’s also the spot where art lovers can relax and revel in the company of the brightest contemporary artists and their wildly energetic, often abstract art.