Photo by Lauren Allen.

“As you might guess, geologists like to be outdoors,” says Selena Dixon, showing off the latest update to Old Lake Highlands (OLH) Petit Galerie, her front-yard mini art gallery. 

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Selena and her husband Jim were career geologists, spending as much of their off-time outdoors as they could — now walking in their neighborhood. They were set up by a teaching assistant in a geology class they shared at Stony Brook University in New York and have now been married 50 years. They moved from Houston to Dallas in 2014 to be closer to their daughter and grandchildren, retiring shortly after.

“When you retire,” she says. “You’re supposed to challenge yourself.”

Selena says she’s always been interested in art, but never got the chance to truly dive into it due to her work. 

“Everybody walks by this corner with their dogs,” she says. “I thought, you could put an art gallery out there. It gives people something to look at and a place to stop, visit and learn.”

That’s where Jim got involved.

“There are a few of those little libraries in our neighborhood which was kind of the inspiration,” he says. “Everytime we walked by, I kind of looked at it and how it was built,” says Jim.

Jim found a blueprint similar to them on Etsy and adjusted the design to make sure the art could be easily viewed but remained safe.

“I modified the front so that there’d be more area to view,” he says. “I wanted it to be more secure, so we screwed the front on so people can’t go in there and fuss around.”

In November 2022, the OLH Petit Galerie was officially born, featuring all original art from Selena. The first installation was themed after the birds she saw in the neighborhood. Since then, she’s tailored themes around fruit, flowers and abstract designs.

“I do not try to one-up myself,” she says. “I would be crippled by it. Trying to do better than you did before? That’s a career thing. I’m retired. I don’t have to torture myself like that anymore.”

In January 2024, the gallery featured work from Kay Wyne, a local artist that marks the first installation that wasn’t created by Selena. 

“Painting large takes more paint and more time,” Wyne explains. “There’s a satisfaction to creating something and having a finished product on a faster timeline.”

Wyne isn’t limited to one artistic style. Her paintings range in size, format and concept. She created them at an art studio she shares with Selena and 10 other local artists.

“Selena saw my artwork in the Dutch Art Gallery and asked if I taught,” she explains. “I don’t teach, but I told her she could paint with me.” 

Once Selena opened her own gallery, Wyne was the clear choice for the first featured artist. 

“I’d love to have a rotation,” Selena says. “Especially people who don’t do what I do.”

OLH Petit Galerie is just over a year old, but the couple says they have no plans to stop doing it.

“As long as we can crawl out there, we’ll do it,” Jim jokes.