Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What a difference a year makes

Gilman Contemporary survives and thrives

Express Staff Writer

"Siam Reap" by Ashley Collins, mixed media and oil on panel at Gilman Contemporary.

The Gilman Contemporary art gallery is celebrating its first year in business, but gallery owner L'Anne Gilman said she feels like she just opened. Gilman has survived a struggling economy both locally and nationally and has managed to bring in new clients and artists to the business.

"We try to be positive," said Gilman. "It's hard and we are grateful. Town is struggling, and we want to be fresh and have good artists. We are still riding that high from when we first opened our doors."

Gilman has spent over 16 years in the gallery business in Ketchum, building her reputation and knowledge while fueling her dream and vision, said Gilman Contemporary's director, Casey Hanrahan.

"She is very grounded," Hanrahan said. "We found our niche. Without an art scene already present, we would not be able to do this."

The gallery's space is different—beautiful, sleek and modern. People who visit the gallery stay for long periods of time, rarely feel uncomfortable and tend to say the space reminds them of some place they have been before.

Ketchum's community of worldly and educated people has accepted Gilman's fresh approach to contemporary art and has come to appreciate the range of its work.

"Every new artist brings amazing energy," Hanrahan said. "It is a relationship. We get calls every day from artists who want to join us. As we look to 2009, we are booked up."

Beyond Ketchum, the nation's economy has been struggling, which directly affects the art world. Hanrahan said the art industry has problems, yet Gilman has survived and thrived in a bad economy.

"An artist's success is good for us and that gets everyone excited, and it's fun to share," Hanrahan said. "We are fulfilling a vision, but it really comes back to the artist. It's art we enjoy, but it's these people behind the art who call us is that keeps us invigorated."

To celebrate one year in business, Gilman Contemporary will feature a show "See & Be Seen" with Wood River Valley photographer and arts advocate Mark Johnstone and several works by Ashley Collins featuring aged-paper-and-resin panels.

Johnstone's "Urban Journal" is a series of photographs, which document cultural news from the United States and Europe. In addition there will be works by abstract painter Alex Couwenberg.

"If we could make it with everything that has happened we are excited," Hanrahan said. "We know we can do it."

Celebrate with Gilman Contemporary's anniversary during Gallery Walk from 5-9 p.m. on Saturday, May 24.

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