Gallery offers a friendly abode and versatile pieces.
Embraced by the shores of Lake Minnetonka is a family-owned art gallery that is a longtime dream come to life. Artist Michèle Villaume-Driscoll and her husband, Edward Driscoll, opened the Villaume-Driscoll Gallery in Spring Park during the pandemic by transforming a 1970s space into an artful retreat.
Villaume-Driscoll Gallery is a space created for hearts and minds to experience stillness. The couple, along with their children, provide a warm-hearted setting from the moment you open the gallery door. Where art greets the lake—there is something magical about a dream becoming a full-time occupation. “I love what I do,” Villaume-Driscoll says. “I feel so blessed. I’m living my passion.”
Together, the Chaska couple takes pride in working as a unit and alongside their sons EJ and Michael Driscoll, who tend to art installations, bookkeeping matters, deliveries and gallery work.
The gallery is a single artist space, and Villaume-Driscoll uses her creative skills to work in different mediums, including encaustic work, acrylics, inks, metal leafing, resin work and Asian papers. “… anything to create texture and movement,” she says.
Driscoll also plays a role in creating elements, and encaustic happens to be one of his favorite methods, which uses beeswax infused with dammar resin or crystallized tree sap. “It is one of the oldest forms of art,” he says. These pieces are filled with inks, acrylics and Japanese washi paper.
Asian art can be calming by nature, and it’s a favorite to include in Villaume-Driscoll’s work. Encaustics are difficult to work with, and the process is rather expensive. Normally seen in smaller works, Villaume-Driscoll prefers larger scale. She describes it as an element of danger, referring to the process of fusing the mediums with a blowtorch.
Most of Villaume-Driscoll’s pieces are done on wood panels. Working on several pieces at a time allows for the curing and drying processes and enables reoccurring manipulation of the work. “I definitely have two to three pieces I am working on, and depending on the piece, it is probably a one-to-three-month process,” she says.
Inspiration is a driving force in creating art, and Villaume-Driscoll’s work is met with broad and beautiful inspiration. “I am inspired by all artists, way back in history to present day—anyone who has poured their passion into creating a form of art,” she says.
The artist also draws inspiration from the community, looking for the texture, movement and color around her—recapturing beauty when she returns to the studio. Traveling brings inspiration as well, through a wide range of cultural experiences: food, dance and music, to name a few. “When we are in obscure places, sometimes you actually meet the local artists who [are] doing their form of work,“ she says.
Artistic muses also have their place in Villaume-Driscoll’s process, and that includes floral design. She has participated in the Minneapolis Institute of Art’s (MIA) Art in Bloom exhibit, which features floral interpretations of selected pieces from MIA’s permanent art collection.
While Villaume-Driscoll continues to cull artistic inspiration from the world around her, her inclination toward art has truly organic and familial sources. “From the day I was born, it has been in my DNA,” she says. “My mom is also an artist, and we shared that passion when I was a little girl.” As a child, Villaume-Driscoll and her mother, Carolyn Villaume, visited museums and galleries, located all over the world. Whenever they traveled, the first point of interest was discovering local artistic venues. She credits her mother with exposing her to the beauty of the world.
Driscoll notes that Villaume-Driscoll has passed that sense of artistic appreciation to their children. “They are both very artistic because Michèle did the same thing with them,” he says. “They
are both very creative as a result.”