While SLC has had a rise in galleries opening up around the city, some are finding it difficult to keep the doors open year-round and maintain the same high-profile presence as others. --- It's not to say they don't want to be open, but in a tough economy with little options, some are having to take a financially conservative route to stay in business while supporting the scene.
Take, for example Central Gallery, which has taken up shop along 500 South across from The Leonardo -- a relatively small spot loaded with various artists, keeping hours by appointment, and with major events to attract art lovers who want to buy and walkabout patrons on evenings when downtown SLC is buzzing. I got a chance to chat with artist and owner Lyndy Lovelady about her career and opening up the shop, plus her thoughts on the local art scene -- all with pictures of the place from this last Gallery Stroll that you can check out here.
Gavin: Hey, Lyndy. First off, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Lyndy: I am a local native waterscape illustrationist. My main medium is prismacolor pencil, just because it travels well and allows me to lay down a blend of vibrant deep color when it's applied to the paper. My focus is to share the energy of water and its lands, as water has magnificent power and symbolism now and throughout history. My visual interpretations present themselves as layers or shapes. This technique is simplified in the coloring book I have published and copyrighted called Impressions of Southern Utah, which is designed to encourage others to color our favorite Utah waterscapes. The book has been a hit and is for sale in Moab, Kanab, Cedar City, Bluff, Hanksville and Mt. Carmel.
Gavin: What first got you interested in art and what were some early influences on you?
Lyndy: I left home and went to Denver when I was 16. At the time, my talent was raw. While in Denver, my uncle gave me a picture book on Salvador Dali. I about crapped at how cool Dali’s style and content was and started drawing more. My uncle and his wife were very encouraging of my artistic endeavors and bought me an airbrush and other art supplies. I was messy and inherited a spot in their basement for practice. I moved back to SLC my senior year of high school and was further encouraged by teachers and my grandma. After graduating with a Sterling Scholarship in Visual Arts in 1985, grandma sponsored a trip to Europe to see more of Dali’s work and tour the Louvre in Paris.
Gavin: Did you seek out any education for your art or were you more self-taught?
Lyndy: Since the Europe trip, I have always sought creative courses and inspiring lands and even other artists' work but had to settle down to raise my daughter. I have worked professionally for the last 20 years as a graphic designer. In 2003, I went back to school to get a marketing degree, which allows me to combine all those skills professionally with that new skill set for a local architect.
Gavin: What pushed you toward doing water illustrations, and what was it like for you learning the craft and honing your skills in that genre?
Lyndy: One summer day in 2005, a talented colleague from high school, Gina Jrel, was in town for her exhibit at Artists Hands. She also does the chalk fest at Gateway every year. I had her over to my place and she saw some of my waterscapes and coached me to create a body of work,18-22 pieces, for exposure.
Gavin: You've been displayed in galleries around the city and state and earned a reputation for your waterscapes and Tarot pieces. How was it for you coming up through the art scene and displaying your work over the years?
Lyndy: Having the idea of an exhibition helps propel the work, like a deadline or goal to accomplish. Tenacity to generate new work and then getting the word out about it is the next step. This is where you play the Rocky theme song in your head. Friends and family have also been supportive to attend shows.
Gavin: How did the idea come about to start up your own gallery?
Lyndy: I met Chris Bowen, an artist and retired gallery/restaurant owner, in Grayland, Wash., in 2009, when I was on my way to Seattle. I showed him some of my work and he offered some tips on starting a gallery since I was having a trouble getting in on the Salt Lake scene as much as I wanted. Chris said, “Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you are not an artist. That’s what you are. Your creations will only manifest with thought and action. Be prolific, share it, teach it, but don’t jeopardize your means of survival if you have one for it.” This is why we are open by appointment. Patrons wanted!
Gavin: What was it like for you looking for spots, and how did you come across the one on 5th South?
Lyndy: My friend and architect Tom Mutter had a work-live condo retail spot on 5th South at 228 East that was under-utilized as storage. I think it bothered him a little. One summer evening, we sat on his balcony with some beers and talked about the continuous foot traffic. There are usually events and the restaurants nearby that have a good draw to the area. I pitched the idea of having a gallery there and that he could make 30% off every sale. He loved it! We decided May 2010 we would go into business as Central Gallery and be open for the Utah Arts Festival downtown by June 24.
Gavin: How long did it take you to get the place set up and ready to display, and who did you showcase on your first exhibition?
Lyndy: We had a month to paint, install fixtures and furnishing and hang the first display. The exhibit was most of my work along with that of the Montanaro family. Jean and Maya Montanaro brought a great assortment of inventory from paintings, giclee, stone jewelry and polish vases. The Montanaros have been part of the gallery since the beginning.
Gavin: What was the general public reaction like when you first opened, and how has the artistic community taken to the gallery, both those exhibited and visiting?
Lyndy: The neighbors were excited, and all the visitors to the gallery have always been positive. Monthly exhibits are tasteful and enlightening to viewers. Some visitors are a little surprised by the gallery’s size and want to go upstairs into the owners condo, so we put a door to inhibit traffic to the living quarters.
Gavin: What's the process for you in selecting whom to display each month, and who are some of the other artists you've had on display?
Lyndy: I scout for artists consistently that have the same philosophy and fit as Central Gallery. I call and invite them to schedule a time to show so they can also promote their works. It's better than keeping it in the closet unseen. Artists we have shown this year include Lisa Clement with her tree-skin photography, Jean and Maya Montanaro, Alex Kravtsov, who does lots of slots photography, Maia Liesz with joyous trees oil paintings and Trent Higley, who creates local landscape oil paintings.
Gavin: Who is on display currently and who can people look forward to over the next few months?
Lyndy: Coming up, we'll have Jason Christensen with Utah's natural wonders photography, and Scott Talbot with his quartz and wire bonzai trees. We regularly have Trent Higley, David Montanaro, who creates real stone jewelry, and myself.
Gavin: What are your long-term plans for the gallery, and what kind of an influence are you looking to create within the art scene?
Lyndy: We take it as we go and trust things will work out if they are meant to. We do our best to welcome and share with visitors and patrons. We want to deliver a compelling experience. There are more influences to be created and good vibes to share from the spirit of all our artists!
Gavin: What are your thoughts on our art scene, both good and bad?
Lyndy: I love being part of the art scene in Salt Lake City. There is a ton of talent and growing all the time, although conservative compared to New York, Seattle and San Francisco-type art scenes. The people are a joy and fun to get to know.
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make everything more prominent?
Lyndy: These days, it’s a lot tougher to finance our endeavors with our nation's economic conundrum. Many of the artists showing in Central Gallery have day jobs in other more lucrative industries to sustain families, abode and to eat. Art sales are down everywhere. We are practicing how to be prominent and visible downtown close to event attendees, hotel and restaurant patrons and other future visitors. We want more artists and more product variety. Central Gallery is always looking for more unique and needed artists and products who create and produce a continuous, affordable variety. We will make room and displays to accommodate the work. We still have a lot of space to fill.
Gavin: What's your opinion on the other galleries around downtown and SLC? Do you view them as competition or more as colleagues?
Lyndy: My favorite are Phillips Gallery, Michael Berry and Art Access. We really are all connected indirectly. The stroll is proof in the pudding of that. Without the Stroll, I would have a limited story to tell to visitors that come by.
Gavin: Speaking of, what's your take on Gallery Stroll and the work being put on display each month?
Lyndy: I noticed that this year and at other art venues, people are buying art, but it’s a small sack they walk away with. People respect art and want to enhance their environment, but even property managers of commercial buildings want to save because of limited budgets. They buy a print instead of an original.
Gavin: What can we expect from both yourself and Central Gallery over the rest of the year?
Lyndy: It slows down in the winter because it’s cold. My wish: Put on your gloves, come by then go ice skate at the Gallivan when it gets like that. Honestly, we want to stay open -- that is a blessing.
Gavin: Aside from the obvious, is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?
Lyndy: Most artists hope to make a living creating what he or she is passionate about, whether it be jewelry, sculpture, painting, music, writing or a combination. Those who do this find some sort of spiritual fulfillment, even more; it's a sharing of self with a portion of the world and make a contribution. Like the nature of our world, that contribution is always changing. Central Gallery products are a reflection of Earth's beauty or a component thereof … like stones, wood, imagery of places or parts of the world. Our own interpretations to be shared.
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