Photo by Rafael Garcia of CC42 Photography
Gayle Aker Rodriguez is Laredo’s most vivacious gallerista. She is the owner of downtown’s Gallery 201, which hosts much of the city’s Mexican, Texan, and local artwork. The gallery exhibits an array of art –including but not limited to—paintings, flamenco dance, poetry readings, and launch parties. Gayle’s diverse love of the arts allows her to use her gallery to give local citizens and visitors of Laredo a chance to socialize and mingle in a new vibrant and cultural ambiance that isn’t felt elsewhere. Gallery 201 is a unique piece of Laredo for everyone to visit and love.
Gayle herself studied art at St. Edward’s University in Austin and TAMIU. She has painted and drawn in many mediums and taken over 200 hours of art. Gayle traveled through Mexico, has been a buyer and seller of women’s clothing, and works as a customs broker from 9-5. It was becoming an owner of her own gallery that filled her creative niche. She is an “artist in the closet” who doesn’t have much time to do her own art, but will take a class every now and then for enjoyment. Mostly she spends her time as a busy woman who continues to grow the love and knowledge of art in Laredo.
Currently, Gayle has opened a call to all artists who are interested in submitting an inspired Frida Kahlo piece. Gallery 201 will celebrate the iconic Mexican artist, Frida, with an ode to her birthday and the powerful influence she has given many artists, women, and male admirers on Thursday, July 7th. Pieces of any medium, such as paintings, drawings, collages, sculptures, etc., will be accepted. Submissions should be e-mailed to email@example.com by June 16th.
Gayle has also been featured in Laredo Cosmo’s Bar and Grill owner Dan “The Man” Windle’s YouTube broadcast. Gayle and Dan take their viewers on a tour of North Central Park’s wall murals. In the episode, Gayle recognizes artist Toni Briones’s piece about gallos de pelea, the fighting roosters, which tells of Toni’s struggle between being an artist in Houston and his hometown Laredo. Gayle further mentions the funds for Toni’s mural were acquired from Gallery 201, family, and friend donations. This is all but a small insight into Gayle and her gallery’s generosity and support for the arts.
Some of Gayle and Gallery 201’s memorable moments include an art auction that raised $28,000 worth of scholarship funds for local TAMIU and LCC art majors –an extraordinary and benevolent accomplishment. Second, the gallery has become the host of Laredo’s Border Slam Poetry every other Thursday. Gallery 201 has also hosted grand launch parties for Laredo’s Cream Magazine and an unveiling of Laredo T-Shirt Factory’s “I AM LAREDO”.
It is of most certainty that Gayle and her gallery will continue to cultivate a taste for the arts in Laredo and bordering cities, including Mexico’s Nuevo Laredo, for numerous years to come. Gayle is a beautiful and enthusing gallerista who “fills her soul” and many others’ “with a love of art”.