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Artist couple sets up in Old Town Cottonwood

Gallery is in Iron Horse Inn building

Bob and Zeina Cook amidst their eclectic collection of art in their newly opened gallery, A Propos, in Old Town Cottonwood. VVN/Jason W. Brooks

Bob and Zeina Cook amidst their eclectic collection of art in their newly opened gallery, A Propos, in Old Town Cottonwood. VVN/Jason W. Brooks

Originally Published: July 21, 2020 11:37 a.m.

Stuck indoors in Costa Rica during the rainy season, Bob Cook was pressed for subject matter for artwork.

A nearby fire extinguisher provided just the inspiration he needed.

“That’s how I came up with ‘Where’s the Fire,’” Cook says, describing the product of that moment, which is now a painting in the newly opened gallery in Old Town Cottonwood, A Propos.

Bob and his wife, Zeina, are artists who relocated from Wimberley, Texas, to Sedona last fall, looking to get their work into local galleries. Like many artists, their lives were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic that shuttered many types of non-essential businesses.

One day, strolling through Old Town Cottonwood, Bob Cook noticed a storefront was available for lease, attached to the Iron Horse Inn. The space, which was recently a jewelry store, is smaller than what the Cooks were used to back in Texas, but the location and the proximity to complimentary Old Town businesses made it seem the time was right to open a gallery.

Since opening June 5, the Cooks have found a place for a variety of their items in the gallery – of several different media.

Bob Cook’s work has included oil paintings, pastels, watercolors and several types of photography, including wildlife, architecture, nighttime, panoramas, infrared and photography of fine art. His work has been shown by prominent galleries throughout Texas, and he’s attended more than 10 workshops conducted by established artists.

Zeina’s work includes photography as well. She also works in sculpture, jewelry and metal forming.

Her piece called the “Tea Infuser,” made of sterling silver, was accepted for a national exhibition in Houston by the Society of North American Goldsmiths.

The Cooks are former managing members for Art on 12, LLC, a gallery in Wimberely, which is about 40 miles southwest of Austin.

While Bob Cook does have one piece at A Propos that’s a surreal depiction of fog over the red rocks of Sedona, the Verde Valley is hardly the focus of much of his art. In fact, he and Zeina ended up here precisely because they seemed to fill a role as artists that didn’t duplicate anyone else’s work.

“There seemed to be a place for us here,” Bob Cook said.

One of Zeina’s featured pieces is “Saturn,” a hand-size, nickel-and-copper sculpture that seems to be a pair of flywheels, but with ferocious teeth. The teeth resemble the rings of the planet Saturn.

She said she works in metals a great deal of the time, making 3-D prints, bracelets and jewelry. She uses copper often.

The Cooks’ target art market goes for a middle ground. Their pieces, and those of the local artists they hope to feature, will be sold at prices that are reasonable and make art affordable to many, but still compensate the artist fairly, Zeina Cook said.

One option they’ll include is a “take me home” seven-day trial that gives customers the chance to see how a painting looks and “feels” in a place, with no charge until the end of the trial week.

“All 20 customers we’ve done that with, they all kept the artwork,” Zeina Cook said.

A Propos is hosting a month-long show in August. They plan to host a reception on Aug. 8, which would coincide with the Second Saturday Art Walk.

The gallery is located at 1034 C N. Main Street in Old Town Cottonwood. It can be found online at aproposgallery.com and contacted at aproposgallery@gmail.com.