Angels are meant to inspire and awe. Louis and Alice Varela’s angels, depicted in murals that adorn their home’s ceiling and doorway, are no exception. “Seeing people’s faces and reactions when they see it is fantastic,” said Alice of her specially commissioned images. “There’s something so beautiful in the art that it moves people and makes them feel that they are somewhere else.”
To achieve their artistic vision for their home, Varela and her husband Louis called on artists Jeremy and Jaime Wells, founders of Imago Dei. The husband-and-wife team, who live in Copperfield, have been working together since they married in 2002. However, Imago Dei, which is Latin for “Image of God,” had its beginnings in 1999 in Ventura, Calif., where Jeremy was attending college. He moved to Texas after meeting his wife, a Houston native, at a Christian gathering in Tennessee where he was attending as a pastor and Jaime had been hired to create art for the event. The Wells’ first attempt to get their business going in Texas was with an Imago Dei Gallery on Galveston’s famous Strand from 2002-2003. “We didn’t do one (decorative) painting job in Galveston the whole time,” said Jeremy.
Instead, he was forced to make daily trips to The Woodlands and Sugar Land where he was able to work on commissioned art. The long commutes soon took their toll and the couple headed back to the Bayou City where they opened Imago Dei out of their home.
Heading home seemed to do the trick. Their name and reputation soon grew, as did their business. “Our garage was our studio, but after a year or two our business was growing faster than our house,” said Jeremy.
Now, with their business housed in a studio near Beltway 8 and Texas 290, the Wells work with a staff of 14, including 10 artists. Jeremy and Jaime attribute their success to their easy collaboration and passion for their art. “We encourage and motivate each other,” said Jaime, who holds a bachelor of fine arts from the Rhode Island School of Design. “In our case we’re extremely blessed because we work together so well. My greatest strengths are Jeremy’s weaknesses and his strengths are my weaknesses.
“Together we are able to be stronger than we would be alone.”
Alice Varela praised the Wells’ unique working relationship, which involves Jeremy handling the technical aspect of the project and Jaime, Imago Dei’s lead artist, focusing more on the creative elements. She added she was particularly impressed with Jaime’s ability to intuitively tap into what she and her husband were looking for in their artwork.
“We had a sense that she understood (what we wanted) and that she was truly listening,” said Varela. “She understood what we were trying to express, as if she could see what was in our head and heart and interpret it.”
The Wells, who are fans of the Renaissance art they have seen in Rome and other parts of Europe, said they are particularly proud of the work they’ve done for the Varelas, which will also include a mural of the Holy Trinity and the Virgin Mother once it is complete. “This is like a dream come true to do these large-scale works on the religious theme,” said Jaime. “I don’t think anyone else is doing this in Houston.”
In addition to custom murals, Imago Dei specializes in fine art, faux finishes and public art.
Jeremy and Jaime have been in business for 9 years and employ about 15 artists full time. They have 2 children and live near Houston, TX.
For more information, go to www.imagodeigallery.com.
Original article written by By Carissa D. Lamkahouan for the Houston Chronicle
by: Sam Leccima & Shani Leccima