Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ketchum galleries head to Art Chicago

Prestigious art fair could boost recognition for resort area

Express Staff Writer

“the darkness had hidden no landscape. glowing like two parallel streams which never mingle II” by Melissa Herrington. Oil and resin on panel at Gallery DeNovo.

When times are tough, ingenuity is necessary. Art galleries in Ketchum have been busy trying to make ends meet. And instead of stressing out about what is not happening in town, several galleries have decided to broaden their horizons.

Three Ketchum art galleries, Gilman Contemporary, Gallery DeNovo and Gail Severn Gallery, will attend Art Chicago, which will take place April 30-May 3. Art Chicago is an annual international fair of contemporary and modern art that brings together the world's leading, emerging and established galleries. Art Chicago offers curators, collectors, artists and art enthusiasts a comprehensive survey of current and historic work, from cutting-edge to modern masters in a wide variety of media, including painting, photography, drawing, prints, sculpture, video and special installations.

"We applied for practice, and we got in," said L'Anne Gilman, owner of Gilman Contemporary. "It shows there is a lot more happening here."

This will be Gilman's first appearance at Art Chicago, and she is bringing a handful of artists' work that she represents—most of which is not represented by galleries beyond Ketchum. Gilman said her artists will benefit a great deal from the exposure of their work to other gallery owners at the fair.

"People travel from all over to attend Art Chicago," she said. "Attending the fair will increase my client base, and it is one of the biggest advertisements I could do. If I make sales, even better."

Gilman said that since Ketchum is a resort town, she hopes people who see the gallery representation at the fair will want to come visit. The owners of Gail Severn Gallery and Gallery DeNovo, who have attended Art Chicago in the past, said the lack of sales during the slow spring season can be augmented by doing art fairs, especially those of the caliber and prestige of Art Chicago.

"To connect to an international scene is to know what is going on beyond Ketchum," said Gallery DeNovo owner Robin Reiners. "It's always good to know what is trending out there. My expectation is to cover the cost of going, and beyond that will be incredible."

Reiners said her gallery needs to build a clientele outside the valley. Art Chicago attendance ranges from 25,000 to 30,000 people.

"We have learned over the years to coordinate our booth and design it for more appeal," Reiners said. "In addition, it has made me understand artists better because I usually have five seconds to communicate to fair attendees stopping by my booth."

Gail Severn, owner of Gail Severn Gallery, said she took her entire staff to the fair two years ago so they could get a feel for the scene and the possibilities for clients and the gallery's artists.

"Last year, I felt the fair improved and now it's worthwhile," Severn said. "We have developed a client base over the years in the Midwest and on the East Coast, which gives us opportunity beyond the valley."

Severn said it's important to broaden her client base, especially to give her younger artists national exposure.

"It's exciting," she said. "It's also like a family reunion for me. I get to see other gallery owners and go out to eat with them and commiserate."

Sabina Dana Plasse:

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