Art-e Gallery brings the vitality of street and pop art to Atlanta


Ricky Echegaray is both a collector of art and an aficionado of what he describes as “street art.” Echegaray’s Art-e Gallery has become a standout among the other galleries in the Miami Circle district, because, as Echegaray says: “We are the ugly duckling of the galleries, in that our collection is overtly vibrant and colorful, and commanding of attention. Some visitors comment, ‘This is not real art,’ for lack of understanding of what is being expressed. I enjoy conversing with all who pass through, educating them about the artists we represent, their backgrounds and the importance of the messages conveyed in their work. Once people understand the universal principles expressed, they begin to see the art differently and connect with it.”

In 2006, Echegaray moved to the United States from San Juan, Puerto Rico. That same year, he launched a Hispanic advertising agency in Atlanta, where he honed his creative chops and business savvy. By 2017, the agency had grown to include over 100 employees and was representing numerous high-profile accounts. During this same time, Echegaray began collecting art, at one point accruing two large storage units’ worth of canvases and prints beyond what he had a place for on the walls of his home.

Nastya Rovenskaya, Banksy’s Flower Thrower, mixed media on canvas, 32″ x 42″

Echegaray’s love of street art developed from the creative work he’d been doing with the agency. He says contemporary street art connects to what’s happening in the outside world. When asked about what informs his decisions when buying art, Echegaray says, “It’s all about trusting your gut and looking for unique forms of expression, as well as exceptional technique, which for some comes through training, while for others it is self-taught.”

Echegaray’s early influences were his father, who always had an interest in art (though he became a physician), and his godfather, who was a skilled painter and graphic designer. In fact, it was with his godfather that Echegaray took his first position as a copywriter during his third year of college.

Eduardo Cabrer, Sweet Memory, original mixed media triptych on paper, 32.5″ x 95.5″

After the pandemic and as Echegaray approached his 50th birthday, he felt an urge to put the corporate world behind him and put his energy into his real passion: art collecting. At the time, there were no galleries in Atlanta that represented street artists, and because of that, Echegaray had been going directly to the artists for their work or purchasing pieces through auctions. Once his collection reached critical mass, he decided it was time to start selling some of it. Echegaray admits that opening the gallery was a bit of a “bumpy road” in the early days, but his love of sharing art with people made it worthwhile, and over time has led to devoted buyers, some of whom have become collectors themselves. In the spirit of fostering understanding about street art, Echegaray keeps books on this genre strewn about the gallery for people to explore. It is his hope that visitors develop an understanding of the artists’ backgrounds so they will, in turn, connect with the artwork they see on the gallery walls.

As the art community in Atlanta continues to expand, Art-e Gallery has established its place in it. The gallery now sells works from some of the top contemporary artists in the world, including Banksy, KAWS, Hijack, Mr. Brainwash and many others. Household names whose works and prints have found a place on the wall include Andy Warhol, Peter Max and Keith Haring, to name a few. Street and pop art, now critically acclaimed genres, tend to be rebellious in nature, often conveying social or political messages intended as a call to activism. Street art has grown especially important in creating awareness about pressing social issues and the environment.

TedyZet, Drained Love, acrylic on canvas, 32″ x 47″

A tour of Art-e Gallery is an invigorating excursion for the eyes. The artwork on display stands out for its vibrancy, texture and bright, engaging colors, as well as its topical and, in many cases, provocative subject matter. Both street art and pop art express the urban environment, with subject matter that revolves around humans and their interactions, emotions and stories. In essence, the gallery’s collection is landscapes of humanity in all of its glory, alongside the cracks in its facades.

Various mediums are represented at Art-e Gallery and at various price points that make this vital artwork accessible to everyone. Of course, many works are originals, and these are available in the form of acrylics on canvas, mixed-media collages, and, in some cases, combinations of acrylic, spray paint and oil paints. Also popular with street and pop artists are print mediums in the form of porcelain art plaques, silkscreen on hand-torn archival paper or deckled edge paper, lithographs, and mixed media that employ print elements. Each medium helps to create a desired effect beyond the subject represented.

Lena Kaplun, El Gato, giclée on canvas, 34″ x 34″

Art-e Gallery’s walls are full of artwork that is captivating and thought-provoking, and which represents the world of today. Echegaray believes that powerfully good art has the ability to ignite the imagination, spark conversation and inspire change, and he is convinced that inviting this artwork into one’s home breathes vitality into the space. Once clients open themselves up to the genre, they grow to appreciate its importance in their lives.

TedyZet, Drained Love 2, acrylic on canvas, 32″ x 38″

When preparing to buy a piece of contemporary art, it’s important to figure out what one likes generally and then home in on specific pieces that spark the imagination. Though one might not find the exact piece they had imagined, another will make itself known. It’s also good to consider the “why” of the purchase. Is it purely because of the look and feel of the canvas or print, or is the message conveyed part of the attraction? Also important: set a budget and know in advance where the artwork will reside in the home. The scale of the artwork and the appropriateness of the subject matter are also important considerations.

Emilio Curiel, Louis Vuitton Bananas, acrylic on canvas, 47″ x 55″

“A good sale, for me, is when I make people happy through the enjoyment of art. My goal is to light people up about art,” says Echegaray. “In doing so, I feel I am connecting them to the world and what’s happening out there—an important goal in this day and age.” *

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