A SoHo landmark since 1984, AFA Gallery offers a unique collection of original paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture from established and emerging artists. The collective works are characterized by their figurative technique and technical virtuosity, rooted in the history and traditions of illustration and expressionism.
Michael J. Ruple, and artist and gallery professional since 2003, joined AFA Gallery with over a decade of experience in gallery management, curation, sales, marketing, and design. Michael’s artistic sensibilities are aligned with those of owner Heidi Leigh, and, together, they intend to expand the scope of artists partnered with AFA Gallery in an effort to continue the gallery’s evolutions while maintaining its original mission.
Heidi Leigh believes that art is necessary and has shared her enthusiasm and expertise as a gallery owner with clients, artists, and friends since 1984. Her inspiration and drive is rooted in a passion for contemporary and pop surrealism that is wildly imaginative and rooted in technical virtuosity.
Leigh has owned and operated more than a dozen galleries after gaining a BFA at Northwestern College. She was on the curatorial committee and the board of directors for MoCCA (The Museum of Comic & Cartoon Art) for 8 years until it closed in 2012. Leigh has served as an advisor for The Walt Disney Co. and Art World Magazine, and has been employed as a consultant for Christie’s East and Sotheby’s auction houses. She has authored articles published in trade magazines and curated museum exhibitions at major institutions including The William Benton Museum of Art, The NY Historical Society and Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. Leigh has been recognized as an expert Art Appraiser by The Library of Congress for popular and applied graphic and cartoon art since 2004, and was interviewed by Larry King in 2016 to launch “Collector’s Cafe”.
Leigh is invested in making art accessible via educational initiatives. She has conducted seminars for university students, hosted Masterclasses and was a guest speaker at the NY Art Expo in 2002 and 2003. She has collaborated with many organizations over the years to host events that benefit museums and help to support charitable organizations. She participated as a leader in an educational arts program in the Westchester elementary school system for ten years and has acted as a mentor for the Westchester Association of Women Business Owners, The Westchester Arts Council and The American Craft Council. In 2012 Leigh co-curated a museum tour, The Maurice Sendak Memorial Exhibition, which opened in 2013 at The Bowers Museum in LA. The collection then travelled to The New Britain Museum of American Art, the Walt Disney Family Museum, and has been booked into 2019.
In 2005 Leigh acquired a chateau in France with the intention of creating a sprawling art gallery within the magnificent medieval fortress. Today, visitors to the historic property enjoy a rich historical tour that includes collections of paintings, sculpture and original armor. The Mayor of the village made Leigh an official “citizen of honor” in 2006. In 2016, Leigh was awarded a letter of arts and culture by the French Ministry, and knighted in 2017.
Leigh was a charter members of the Animation Art Guild. She belongs to The Society of Illustrators and Museum of American Illustration, MoCCA, The Chuck Jones Center for Creativity, The Charles M. Schulz Museum & Research Center, The Rosenbach Museum & Library and MoMA.
Heidi lives in Westchester, New York for most of the year and spends summers at her chateau in France.