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WHAT DOES IT TAKE FOR AN ART GALLERY TO WEATHER THE STORM IN PARK CITY?

The mortality rate among art galleries in Park City is high. Every year, new galleries are born - and a surprising number of galleries die.

What does it take for an art gallery to succeed in Park City? That's the question I asked Charles and Gwen Latterner, owners of Old Town Gallery; Nancy Samson, gallery director of Meyer Gallery; and Diane Balaban, director of the Kimball Art Center. These two galleries and one art center have weathered some turbulent storms.In order to survive in Park City, a gallery owner must be sensitive to the peculiarities of the city.

Art is seasonal in Park City. And, of course, the best season for art sales is winter, when skiers from all over the world converge on Park City to enjoy "the greatest snow on Earth."

Samson said that in the winter, the gallery sells more to out-of-state buyers who are attracted to the larger works of art in the gallery - paintings and bronzes. However, during the summer, most of the clientele are from Salt Lake City. "They tend to smaller artwork, like jewelry and pottery."

According to Charles Latterner, overhead costs on Park City's Main Street are double what they are in Salt Lake City.

Balaban said, "People don't come from New York to buy art they can purchase in New York. They want art by top Western artists. We're not talking about cowboys and Indians, but artists who live in the West."

In addition to these insights, they have more to say about the success of their PC galleries.

- The Latterners of Old Town Gallery:

1. Absentee ownership doesn't work. You have to do it yourself. You can't hire people to run the gallery for you.

2. Location is a key factor. Latterners' first gallery was on Park Avenue. Since moving to their present Main Street location, sales have jumped markedly.

3. New talent continually must be added to the gallery to keep it fresh and vibrant.

4. Prices should be kept competitive.

- Samson of Meyer Gallery:

1. A variety of arts and crafts - paintings, bronze, pottery jewelry, etc. - should be offered.

2. National and regional trends must be followed. "Recently we have shifted more to a Southwestern landscape, although we continue to offer outstanding Western painting and bronze sculpture."

- Balaban of the Kimball Art Center.

1. Be prepared for lean times and not just fat times.

2. Customers are looking for original works where the artist makes his or her own statement.

3. Buyers like art that represents this area, whether it is contemporary or traditional.

They all agreed that in order to succeed, a gallery must offer a wide variety of artists and media by Utah and out-of-state artists; build a repeat clientele (which takes several years to do); and be prepared for a lot of hard work, long hours and days, continuity, stick-to-itiveness, etc.

A close look at their galleries shows that they carefully select creative artists who produce quality work.

- At Old Town Gallery there are paintings and/or prints by Lynne Berryhill, Jenni Christensen, Johannes Gunther, Hal Larsen and his wife Fran, Tom Mulder, Woodward Payne and Trevor Southey; and sculptures by Ursula Brodouf-Craig, Richard Erdman, Fran Larsen and Fred Lyman.

Breathtaking colors dot the walls in this gallery; Mulder is working with a brighter palette, Fran Larsen uses hot hues to create her paintings, frames and sculpture; and Berryhill has brushed onto her non-objective paintings some exciting passages of warm colors.

Three new artists add a fresh look to the gallery: Sigrun Mueller's gouache and wax paintings on Japanese rice paper; Yuji Hiratsuka's chine colle; and Phill Evans' kinetic sculpture where he combines metal and stones.

- Meyer Gallery is known for its wide assortment of bronzes. Dotting pedestals throughout the gallery are sculptures by Clark Bronson, Frank DiVita, Gary Price, Dennis Smith, Ed Spears, Grant Speed and Steven Streadbeck.

There are watercolors by K.C. Wilson and H. Francis Sellers; oils by Robert Daughters, Tom DeDecker, Richard Murray, Kent Wallis and Michael Workman; gouache by Bruce Cheever; ceramic sculpture by Lynne Hone; and color lithographs by R.C. Gorman and Francisco Zuniga.

- Kimball Art Center doesn't have a stable of artists, except in its gift gallery. The Main and Badami galleries are reserved for changing exhibitions. On display through July 1 are KAC's 1991 Annual Open Painting Exhibition and a show by lithographer Todd Frye in thelower gallery.

Utah artists submitted 230 works for this show. Only about one-fifth of them were juried into the exhibit by visiting artist Trevor Southey.

Southey found the "natural break" at about 80 pieces. Pulling out another 32 - many of them strong works of art - proved to be the challenge.

Five awards were announced at the June 2 opening. First place went to Seven Strebel for his pastel "By Grandpa's Hayfield"; second place, to Adrian Van Suchtelen for his oil "Purple Robe;" third place, to George Handrahan for his large, hazy landscape "Liberty, Utah." Juror awards were also captured by Susan Fleming for her oil-on-paper "Gifts from Aliens" and Randall Lake for his "Safe in the Fold" (a painting reflecting Norman Rockwell's humor).

There is room at the Kimball Art Center to exhibit 80 works - that is, if art is hung closer together. Certainly works can be double stacked and/or placed closer together without destroying the aesthetics.

KAC personnel said that, next year, they'll probably allow the exhibit to overflow downstairs into the Badami Gallery and possibly some of the hallways.

For more information about these galleries, see GALLERIES in this section of the Deseret News.