Valkarie Gallery opens tomorrow -- just in time for Denver Arts Week
Courtesy of Valkarie Gallery The work of Katie Hoffman.
Valkarie Art Gallery and Studio is opening in Belmar this weekend, just in time for Denver Arts Week. It's the brainchild of Frank Farrar, Valerie Savarie and Karrie York, all veterans of the Denver art scene who will be showing their work in Valkarie's initial exhibit, which also features ten guest artists. The Belmar space sort of fell into their laps, Valkarie's founders say, and they knew they had to take a chance on it. The result is not only a gallery, but a studio space for the trio as well. In advance of tomorrow's opening, Westword spoke with all three of the artists, discussing everything from Norse mythology to what it's like to transition from artist to gallery owner.
See also: Five ways to kick off Denver Arts Week
Westword: So your new gallery is named Valkarie. At first I thought of Valkyrie, as in Norse mythology, the ladies on horses who decide which soldiers lived and which ones died in battle. Then I realized it was spelled a little differently, so is it a combination of names between a couple of the owners? Does the mash-up name represent any of that mythology?
Valerie Savarie: Karrie and I were originally just trying to find a studio space, so we came up with Valkarie. Indeed, it is a mash-up of my name and Karrie's. When we were presented with the opportunity of obtaining the gallery space, we decided to keep it. It reflects the Valkyrie mythology as we see it relating to artists. A lot of us have devoted our life to our art; we have sacrificed much for our passion. When we finally feel as though we are ready to show ourselves and our art to the world, many galleries want to take such a large part of the sale that we find it hard to make a living at it -- left to die on the battlefield, so to speak. So when we developed Valkarie, we based it on the co-op principle of it being artist-run, which it is, but where we only have a limited number of member artists and then invite guest artists to have a four=week solo show and ask in return for only a small portion of the sale. They don't have to sit there the entire show, because there is also a studio at the gallery where Frank, and I will be working most of the time, which is the norm for co-ops. We are hoping to give artists a new life, a new level of appreciation and ultimately find great success, which we feel they truly deserve.
How did the three of you get together to open this gallery? I notice you are all talented artists in your own right; does that help in running a gallery? Is it hard dividing business and art?
Savarie: Karrie and I had talked about working on a collaborative art project. I had been invited by 40 West Arts to be on an artist's panel for the City of Lakewood to discuss the viability of them creating an affordable live/work community along West Colfax. That's when I found out that Block 7 in Belmar had an artist studio available for lease at a great price. We thought, now we could have a space to work on our art. I applied but got rejected because I couldn't be open during the day, I still have a day job, but they said they had the large gallery space available. So I talked with Karrie and asked her if she thought her partner Frank would be interested in opening a gallery together in Belmar. She had mentioned that the two of them thought about opening one in Old Towne Arvada. He said yes and here we are.
I have been sitting as director at Zip 37 Gallery for just over two years and gained a vast amount of knowledge about what it takes to run a gallery. I also learned that when you have a traditional co-op, it can be very hard to move forward because everyone gets an equal say and things can end in a stalemate. That's why we decided to take a more contemporary approach to the co-op, in hopes that we will be able to keep progressing forward while still putting the artist first.
At this point, I think that all artists who take their work seriously are unable to separate business and art, unless they have an agent. Art is all about marketing yourself, getting your art into places where people can see and experience it. We are hoping that Valkarie will make this easier as we can promote our art and the art of our members and guest artists at the same time.
Karrie York: Valerie and I are in the same co-op and Frank is the person who taught me to paint. We got to talking and agreed that it would be great to have a place that encompasses both the creative and business side of the art world. It's a terrible feeling when you get the opportunity to show and because the galleries take such a large percentage, you are forced to ask a higher price than you think the work is worth, or having to sacrifice your creative time in order to "sit the gallery." Valkarie allows us to work while we work. Manning the gallery ourselves and getting to establish a rapport with the patrons makes it a bit easier to let go of our work, since we get to personally share the meaning of it with them.
I think that the fact that people are able to stop in and see our work in various stages of development might be of interest. Keeping the membership small allows us to selectively choose our artists by focusing on the quality of their work and keeping the gallery fresh, as opposed to limiting ourselves to choosing work based on filling up space and making rent.