Artistic merits aside, it is a unique and refreshing experience to meet creative personalities Cristian and Cindy Vargas-Candamil, the brother-sister team behind Candamill Gallery. They are simultaneously youthful yet worldly and passionate yet grounded. Their enthusiasm for their work is so infectious, it is difficult to leave the gallery untouched by the vibrance and dynamism.
Since Candamill’s founding in 2012, impressively without investors or external backing, the space reflects the lifeblood and tireless efforts of Cristian, Cindy and the collective of up-and-coming artists they represent. Their self-designed collection of womenswear rounds out the artistic backdrop into a complete lifestyle brand.
Trying to define exactly what Candamill is proves as daunting as pinning a connection between the gallery’s artists. The intensity of their energy and vision takes shape in a variety of mediums and techniques: Avone’s urban basketball scenes, feted by the NBA and ESPN; Technodrome’s slick, Warhol-esque digital illustrations; Sofia Xavier’s haunting, emotional photographs and Hideki Takahashi ‘s complex, monolithic installations. Recent special projects include full design and execution of restaurant renovation for BK City in Pelham, New York and participation in a PBS documentary portraying New York’s aspiring artists.
“I don’t think we know what it is yet because it is all happening at once,” offers Cristian. “Only in hindsight can you step back, put it all together and give it a name.”
From the Vargas-Candamils’ humble origins, growing up in Queens as first-generation Columbian immigrants, they were raised to “make it your own, no matter what you are doing.” Cristian was always a creative child, spending hours drawing and painting. He began creating large-scale murals, later for high-end homes and eventually designing gallery murals in Soho, while immersing into New York’s conceptual art scene.
Cindy’s professional development has followed a more traditional path: studying and working at fashion notables DVF, Zac Posen and Elizabeth and James, before branching out to co-create Candamill’s sculptural clothing line with Cristian. This bold undertaking was spurred by her desire “to take ownership of developing a line’s creativity from concept and emphasize the highest quality in every stitch of every piece.” Candamill’s New York-designed and manufactured clothing is crafted with women of the art world in mind, those who can appreciate its lines and balance and want to stand apart from the crowd. “Ours is a confident consumer who wants her clothing to bridge the gap between art and fashion,” says Cindy. “She is a woman who will appreciate that in every garment we create, no detail has been overlooked.”
With an ever receptive lens on the world, Cindy and Cristian cite their influences as coming from any and everywhere: the gallery’s panoramic sunset views of the New York skyline, architecture glimpsed from the train during a morning commute, new music discovered at a friend’s party, and naturally, the symbiotic relationship between the clothing line and the art pieces that transform the gallery space. “Everything around us becomes part of the process,” says Cindy. “It starts with a feeling and figuring out how to translate it into art and fashion that embody the emotion.”
“We want to create a space where people can experience the brand in a constantly evolving way,” says Cindy, in sum. “We definitely know where we want to end up,” adds Cristian. “We want Candamill to be synonymous with something great, for people to know and expect that whatever we are doing will always be something special.”
Looking around the gallery, at the neon-tinged, mixed media sculpture by the entrance, perfected minimalist garments with poured-over detailing, diverse range of pieces from artists imaginative and distinct, there is an energy to the space so vivid it is almost palpable: of youth, passion, dreams, limitless labored love. One has no doubt that greatness is exactly where Candamill is headed. Or perhaps they are even already there, but are too involved and in love with the process to realize they have arrived, and will continue to again and again.
Candamill Gallery is located at 630 Flushing Avenue in Brooklyn and open for showings by appointment. For more information about the gallery, reference the website www.candamill.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.