In recent years, Sanya has firmly established itself as one of the major tourist hotspots in China. With wide entertainment value, a free trade port and a steadily growing pool of expats, Sanya is now well on its way to becoming something of an international community. The only thing missing is international art and culture.
Segarra Art is the latest addition to Hainan’s up-and-coming cultural scene. Founded by American painter Angelo Segarra, this dynamic studio and gallery is set to open its easels to the public on May 8. The small, bright rooms are filled with masterful paintings, half-finished sketches and amateur artists eager to improve their skills.
Segarra was interested in art from a young age but started treating it as a serious venture in college. Every week he and a group of friends would meet up to work on live model sketches of one another. “I think that artists should never really be alone. They need to work alongside each other, support each other,” he tells us. “They need a community. And that’s what we hope to create here.”
After college, Segarra moved to Bali to study watercolor and sculpture, and at 29 returned to the US to open two galleries in New Mexico. In 2012, he moved to Harbin to teach English.
“When I came to China, I started to re-evaluate my art style,” says Segarra. He devoted himself to his painting and quickly became involved with the Heilongjiang Contemporary Art Institute. Segarra was given a gallery and studio, and in 2013 he exhibited his art in a one-man show through the patronage of the prestigious institute.
In 2018, he was awarded an honorary fellowship, and today his artwork is displayed in museums and galleries across China.
“The whole experience blew me away, actually. I felt really honored, and it made me think that I want to do something with this. I want to make it work,” he recalls.
Seeking to pursue his dream, Segarra moved to Sanya and started planning to open his gallery.
“I didn’t think this would be possible. If it wasn’t for the people I met here, this wouldn’t be happening.”
Shortly after arriving, Segarra met Dean Merritt, who specializes in helping entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. Merritt and his wife, Happy, bring to the galley their vast experience in commerce and customer relations. “What we want is to be the catalyst for an active artistic community,” says Merritt. “We want to find passionate people and get them involved. We want to help Sanya to become an international center.”
Angelo Segarra and Dean Merritt. Image via Segarra Art
The founding team has now expanded to include Angela M. Dekenah and Denique Wododo. Dekenah functions as the gallery’s event and media manager, working to increase exposure and organize workshops, talks and functions. “We’re hoping that in Sanya we’ll be able to cultivate new opportunities for cultural exchange, where arts and ideas can be explored, shared and celebrated,” Dekenah tells us.
Wododo expresses that, “being surrounded by passionate people in art, despite our differences” gives her the encouragement and motivation to work harder and achieve her artistic goals. Wododo is a talented and passionate artist, who has had experience working in a studio and selling cards and paintings online. “She brings a lot of life to the gallery,” says Merritt.
It’s clear that the Segarra Art team has big dreams for the gallery. But, as Merritt adds, “We’re big dreamers.”
From left and clockwise, Happy and Dean Merritt, Angela M. Dekenah, Denique Wododo, and Angelo Segarra. Image via Segarra Art
“I feel so grateful to be in Sanya, and for the people I’ve met. They go above and beyond for the studio. But we all have this incredible opportunity to do something that is greater than us as individuals and that’s what’s really exciting,” says Segarra.
Segarra Art offers starting artists the opportunity to hone their artistic skills and establish a channel through which to sell their art. Paintings by cubby-holders are displayed within the gallery, as well as on the gallery website and Fine Art America.
Subscription participants benefit from this opportunity to sell their works, unlimited access to the studio, access to necessary materials, private tuition and 50% off all workshops offered by the gallery.
Curious artists can test the waters with a free trial session, or purchase subscription packages ranging from RMB1,200 a month to RMB8,000 a year.
Additionally, every Wednesday from 5pm the gallery will host Art Jams, where attendees can use and manipulate available materials on hand.
Located on the second floor of the little-known Winter Mall, across the parking lot of the Summer Mall, Segarra Art welcomes newcomers and inquisitive gawkers.
“I’ll tell you one thing,” says Segarra, “I love painting. It’s just a non-stop process of discovery for me.”
If interested to learn more, join the Segarra Art Community via the Wechat QR code below to enjoy the benefits of an active artistic group or to confirm your spot at the grand opening on May 8.
Daily 10.30am-9.30pm. Segarra Art. Room 214, Entertainment City, Dadonghai Ruihai Shopping Park. 大东海瑞海购物公园娱乐城二层214室
[Cover image via Segarra Art]
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