Clean Slate

If you’ve walked by the new CAS gallery at 32 Elm Street at night, you wouldn’t be able to miss it. The space, formerly the home of Papyrus, has been turned aglow into a bright white oasis—a more than 3,000-square-foot canvas for the artwork that fine art photographer Casey Friese creates.

The space is a real look into the creative brain that is Cas Friese. The New Canaan mom and California transplant worked for many years as a corporate executive in the worlds of fashion and luxury goods and has left that all behind in order to nurture her creativity and bring it to fruition. Friese says she is consistently inspired by landscape, travel and finding beauty in simplicity. She has become quite well known for her neutral beach photographs—images that her customers on this coast tend to gravitate to.

Her opening presentation, which was up until mid-October, showcased a new side of Friese. “Pieces” highlighted one single magnolia plant that lives right here in New Canaan. After shooting the plant over the course of a couple of years, the result was a magnificent look into the finest details of the flowers. And, just before changing the gallery over to its newest exhibition titled “Faded,” almost every single unique piece was sold and on its way to new homes.

“I love so much that these are pieces that end up in people’s homes,” she says. “It’s really the end goal for each piece to end up in their forever homes.”

Just a few years ago, Friese opened her first gallery space inside the Gray Barns Mercantile in Silvermine, a space she said has served her well.

left: Friese working in her new space where the floors, ceilings, molding and ductwork are all painted white. right: Customers get personalized service from the artist, including framing suggestions.

“It was a great first space for me,” she says, sitting in the upstairs workshop area in her new space. “Being in Silvermine was so beautiful and serene, but it was time for me to search for something with more wall space.”

And so she found 32 Elm, a huge difference in size from her previous digs, she put quite a lot of work into the construction of this new location. They stripped down walls, gutted a bathroom, installed a new HVAC and electrical system and painted every single thing white—floors, ceilings, molding, ductwork—everything. The white, she says, is the perfect blank slate for anything she wants to showcase.

This new space also offers Friese much-needed workshop space on the second level, where she can spread out, meet with clients and experiment with her own works. In addition to what she has in the gallery, she offers a collection of art available exclusively at Design Within Reach stores and personally works on each and every piece in her workshop. All of her images are either one of a kind or in a very limited run. She is open to working with clients on custom works as well and works on every detail of the product herself—even down to framing options.

Now in the gallery, passersby will see her second show, titled “Formed,” which is a curated collection of Friese’s works along side sculptures by artist Re Jin Lee. Friese says she loves that her spot on Elm brings in lots of foot traffic and allows her to connect with other local galleries and artists that flock to New Canaan.

“I love being a part of this community where art is celebrated and people visit as a real destination for creativity,” she says. “I see myself here for many years to come.” 32 Elm Street, New Canaan; casfriese.com

left: A magnolia image from Friese’s opening show, “Pieces.” right: Friese’s process includes magnificent attention to detail, down to the framing options.

Photos: Courtesy of Cas Friese

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