Woman drawn to open gallery


UP: Cerulean is the vision of SMU grad, with local artists the core
12:00 AM CDT on Thursday, August 31, 2006

By CASEY REIVICH / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

Caroline Crockett Pickton, owner of the new Cerulean Gallery in Snider Plaza, is enjoying the best of both worlds.

Caroline Crockett Pickton's 'Wallpaper Series: Cherry Blossoms 4' hangs in the Cerulean Gallery, which she opened in 'boutiquey' Snider Plaza.

"I had the dream to run my own business and the dream of opening my own gallery, so I could focus on my own painting again and support local and SMU artists," said Mrs. Crockett Pickton, an SMU alumna.

Ms. Crockett Pickton, 28, is a fifth-generation Dallas-area resident who lives in Plano with her husband, Erick Pickton.

She grew up in North Dallas.

It wasn't always clear she would go into the arts.

It was at Southern Methodist University's Meadows School of the Arts that she discovered her passion.

"I didn't know I could paint," she said. "I took painting with Mary Vernon and fell in love with painting."

"Her artwork was extremely beautiful," said Ms. Vernon, a professor who still teaches painting and drawing at SMU. "She is an attentive realist painter."

After graduating from SMU in 2002, Ms. Crockett Pickton went to work for Art Ability, an art consulting firm in the Dallas design district that puts together art packages for companies.

She worked there for three years, eventually becoming lead art consultant.

It was at Art Ability that she honed her business skills.

"I got to be creative and learn to run a business," she said.

In November, Ms. Crockett Pickton decided to open the Cerulean Gallery.

She felt that the Park Cities needed a contemporary-art gallery. She chose to be in popular Snider Plaza in University Park.

"This shopping center is so charming and so boutiquey," she said. "And it's not far from SMU."

Through the Cerulean Gallery, Ms. Crockett Pickton has reached out to local artists and fellow SMU grads.

"There is so much talent in this area," she said. "I remember when I was a student, I really wanted to get into a gallery.

"It's very difficult. I wanted to give [SMU students] the experience."

Friends and family supported her venture, and the Cerulean Gallery opened officially on March 9.

Her opening exhibition was called "Out of the Blue," and six of the seven participating artists were SMU grads.

Robin Hazard-Bishop, a landscape artist from Hot Springs, Ark., and an SMU alumna, found out about the Cerulean Gallery through Ms. Vernon.

"Caroline's just awesome. She is so on the ball and excited about the gallery and excited about the artists she shows," Ms. Hazard-Bishop said.

"If you come from a background in art, you understand where the artist is coming from and what they're doing."

The gallery is doing well, said Ms. Crockett Pickton. She meets with artists regularly and shows a new exhibit every five weeks.

Her newest is called "Spectrum."

The Cerulean Gallery also continues to reach out to the community.

Ms. Crockett Pickton has donated her gallery space to charitable organizations such as the Dallas Haiti Project and the Creative Arts Center.

She also plans to show art from Highland Park High and SMU students.

Casey Reivich is a Dallas-based freelance writer.