A cheerful little boy in shorts, sneakers and a wild mop of brown curls led his friend through the tree trunks along the brick-paved Maplewood Mall courtyard on Greene and Armat streets.

"My mom and dad are opening an art gallery," he explained to his companion.

According to his parents, artists Rocio Cabello and Renny Molenaar, family life has been a bit busy for the past week while the new iMPeRFeCT Gallery geared up for a 29-artist show titled "There's Something About Germantown...", which debuted on Saturday night.

For three days before the opening, Cabello said, "We were up working until 3 a.m., and then woke up at 6 a.m. to come back."

Germantown's newest gallery arrives

By Saturday's opening night party at at 5601 Greene St. in Germantown, some aspects of the space were admittedly still pretty raw.

Two long, unfinished steps divided the gallery floor into an upper and lower level, fluorescent lights blared and the floor of the gallery's lower level was unpainted wood panels. Time ran out to replace the shop's ancient air conditioner, and the open door and windows did little to dissipate the heat of the avid crowd.

However, the fresh white walls boasted an impressive array of work ranging from photography to collage, sculpture and paintings.

"If anyone's going to pick on what we haven't gotten done, and ignore what we have done, they've missed the point," Cabello said.

What they saw

Work on display included Stefan Abrams's "Doppelganger," a series of photos that caught a variety of companions in accidentally mirrored poses and dress.

Sand-casting metal sculpture artist Gina Michaels contributed a weighty but whimsical work of bronze hands.

Even the walls of the tiny bathroom were pressed into service, with a parade of colorful terrycloth circles in a freewheeling piece by Carole Loeffler.

After they spent a few years seeking a storefront gallery space, Cabello and Molenaar began to consider settling for a loft. This, even though they feared that only artists or serious collectors would venture upstairs. Such an exclusive crowd was not what they had in mind.

A welcoming vibe

The large and graceful window of the ground-floor space has been the key to their hopes. Neighborhood residents poked their head in the door every day during the renovations to find out what was going on inside.

"All the artists are coming out of the woodwork," Cabello said Saturday. "Perfect strangers are stopping in to see what we're doing."

It turns out that even the pizza delivery guy who works across the street is an artist.

"It's a good feeling if the neighborhood is excited about what we're doing," Cabello said.

Many displayed pieces were available for sale, and a small donation basket brimmed with bills.

"I think it's fabulous," said Michaels, who knows a cut of the sale of her $9,000 piece would be a boon for the gallery. Especially given the open call for artwork, "the quality of the work is really very high."

Imperfection in action

The celebrations were momentarily interrupted when a large drafting table pressed into service as the wine-bar suddenly gave way, sending a bottle and several glasses smashing to the floor.

Unfazed, Molenaar cleared a space among the guests and grabbed a mop himself.

"I'm very overwhelmed right now," Cabello said of seeing the first fruits of their work.

Despite the exhaustive string of late-night toiling, she knew that the party was unlikely to end on time if her partner had anything to do with it. No one, she said, would be flickering the lights to signal closing anytime soon.

"Renny is not the type to do the light-switch," she laughed.