Bethesda business hosts ‘A Toast to Art’ showcase

BETHESDA — Two entrepreneurs held an open house art exhibit in their own Bethesda office entitled “A Toast to Art” on Tuesday.

Sean Saidi and Sabine Roy helm Saidi-Roy Associates, or SR/A, a private business that is partly architectural and partly interior design.

SR/A is contracted to design new multifamily homes and renovate old ones in the area. Saidi and Roy’s art exhibit showcases local work from artists they know personally.

“We talk to local artists to help Bethesda because there’s not enough exhibits, and the ones available are very expensive,” said Saidi.

At SR/A, Saidi and Roy often partner with artists to help design the interiors of homes. They also host art exhibits at which the artists they have partnered with can sell their work.

“There is no real design style (to the exhibit),” said Roy. “It’s just what we like, what jumps out at us, and what we’d like to use in our projects.”

Some of the art comes from places as far away as France, Italy or Germany. However, the intention to collect original art remains the same.

Mark Schwenk is a sculptor who has made metal art for 20 years. He met Saidi and Roy five to six years ago. “I have full creative input in all of the work I consign,” said Schwenk.

Schwenk enjoys the artistic input he gets from working with SR/A. “Sometimes they’ll look at my work and say, ‘Why don’t you make it more like this?’ and I’ll think ‘Wow, why didn’t I think of that?’ This way, I can improve my art in ways that I couldn’t have otherwise.”

Eileen Lyons, an art teacher for the National Gallery of Art’s drawing salons and Edmund Burke High School, was exhibiting her art for the first time at SR/A.

“This is my first opportunity exhibiting with them. They’re fabulous. I had a show in Georgetown, where we met, and Sabine came to my studio to see my work. I’ve known them for a year,” said Lyons.

A few of Lyons’ works at the exhibit were an abstract acrylic painting of 17th Street in D.C. and lithographs that she made during a program in Spain.

“We were part of a pilot program for the former Corcoran College of Art and Design, my professor asked if we wanted to go, and I got to work with Spanish painters, who taught us to be more playful with our work,” said Lyons.

Lyons gets her main inspiration from architecture, which to her contains a special symbolism. “Which side of the window are you on? Are you inside looking out or outside looking in?” said Lyons.

In addition to Schwenk and Lyons’ work, Mark Willcher’s wood carvings were also on display, as well as the art of many others who did not appear that night. Everyone who participated in the gallery, from the full-time business staff to the partnering artists, displayed the relaxed and friendly air of close acquaintances as they sipped drinks from the free bar.

“This (exhibit) is not a business; this is more of a hobby,” said Roy. For Saidi and Roy, the creation of an exhibit was purely for the pleasure of art, not for profit.

“I felt it would be unfair to the artist to take part of the profits, so we don’t buy the art. We just help them auction it,” said Roy.

SR/A plans to have another exhibit around March, which will also be open to the public.

“It makes a difference to live in a place with original art. It adds value to your environment,” said Roy.




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