80 faces

Dean & Deluca co-founder reclaims his turf in the art world with new portrait installation

Dean & Deluca co-founder reclaims his turf in the art world with new portrait installation

Jack Ceglic 80 Faces
One of three co-founders of Dean & Deluca, Jack Ceglic is showing a rare site-specific installation at the 214 Gallery. Photo by Tyler Rudick
Jack Ceglic 80 Faces
"Manuel" from the 80 Faces series. Photo by Tyler Rudick
Jack Ceglic 80 Faces
Ceglic noted that inspiration for the series was drawn from the portrait work of both Alice Neel and Andy Warhol. Photo by Tyler Rudick
Jack Ceglic 80 Faces
Jack Ceglic 80 Faces
Jack Ceglic 80 Faces

As one of the three co-founders of the gourmet grocery outfit Dean & Deluca — and aesthetic director of the store's carefully-planned interior spaces — artist Jack Ceglic maintains an iconic status in food and design circles alike.

Yet while he has enjoyed a respected second career as an architectural designer with commissions throughout the New York area, Ceglic's heart remains in portraiture, which gets a special treatment in downtown Houston with a small but captivating installation of paintings at Gallery 214 entitled 80 Faces.

"As a whole, Dean & Deluca was really like a painting of mine, especially in the overall feel," artist Jack Ceglic explained during a sneak peak of hi s new show at Gallery 214.

"As a whole, Dean & Deluca was really like a painting of mine, especially in the overall feel," Ceglic told CultureMap during a sneak peak of the show. "Arranging and planning various layouts of the original SoHo store was like doing a still life everyday. Sometimes I'd even use different workers as subjects after work."

Since leaving the company nearly half a decade ago following the death of co-founder and longtime companion Joel Dean, the artist has returned to painting wholeheartedly, splitting his time between a converted toy factory in lower Manhattan and self-designed studio in East Hampton, where the series of 80 portraits was produced in the span of two years.

"Some of the faces here are fairly well known and some of them are not," Ceglic said, adding that he likes to maintain a uniform level of anonymity for his cadre of subjects. (One might suspect, however, that friend and Oscar-winning actor Joel Grey worked his way into the 4-by-20 grid of individual faces.)

"I have each person sit in the same spot in the same chair at the studio in East Hampton, where that light always has such beautiful and unique quality," he explained, saying that inspiration for the series was drawn from aspects of both Alice Neel and Andy Warhol, elements seen in the expressionistic color palette and the Polaroid-like candid moments captured in each portrait.

80 Faces opens at the 214 Gallery on Saturday with a reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The installation will be on view through May 26.