By Jennifer Pund
Hanging the colorful flower baskets was all it took for passers-by to stop and see what was happening at the historic gallery on Hwy. 7 near Allenspark. In a building that housed Bishop’s Gallery for decades, Susan and Gary Kerr have opened gallery vii to display works of art from artists based locally, in Colorado as well we some national and international pieces.
The couple are leasing the space until late fall and plan to host events and soirees monthly to introduce guests to a variety of different art and artists.
“We put out the flowers and people started stopping by, just being curious what was going on,” Gary said. The flower’s arrival each spring historically indicated Bishop’s Gallery, owned by art collector Bill Bishop, was open for the season. Since it’s been closed, the building and front porch, has sat empty. The Kerrs’ gallery vii, a fine art gallery, is now open Tuesday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and continues the long tradition of art gracing the walls of the wooden cabin.
“Bill is now 84, and is down in Scottsdale. We were able to lease it for a few months… we are going to do it and see how it goes, we are just going day by day,” Susan said. “It’s been really busy, so far. A lot of people are coming in to see, and we’ve had some art collectors come in, so it’s been fun.”
Although this will be Gary’s first winter in the foothills, Susan is no stranger to the area. She was born in Boulder and as a girl spent summers at the Cheley Camps in Glen Haven participating in the Girls’ Trail End program. She spent some time in Estes Park, working at the Stanley Hotel and also spent a summer in her earlier years as a waitress at Fawn Brook Inn in Allenspark. Even then she noticed and loved the Bishop’s Gallery.
Years later, she met Gary in Basalt. He is an architect, and she is an interior designer, so the two naturally formed their own design team. Their interest in art is what inspired them to look for a place to open an gallery. Starting their search in Taos, they also explored the Western Slope of Colorado. Ultimately, they made they way to Allenspark where they have been able to achieve their goal to “merge art and those who love art and the gateway of Rocky Mountain National Park.”
With Susan’s contacts from her time in Aspen, the advice of local gallery owners and world-of-mouth, the two have had little trouble finding artists to display. “I’ve worked in a gallery so some artists were in that gallery in Aspen. And, artists have friends. But I didn’t realize how many artists were in this area. It’s fascinating. A lot of them have stopped in an introduced themselves,” Susan said.
The gallery displays works from more than 20 artists including wildlife paintings by Allenspark resident Dan D’Amico and an exhibit this month by Carol Jenkins and Greta Balzer, mother and daughter oil painters from Ward. Their paintings are displayed around a life size paper-mache of Balzer made by Jamestown artists Emma Hardy.
Artist Marianne Billingsley lives in Coal Creek Canyon and displays a portrait from her private collection. “We are so lucky to have this,” Susan said of the portrait. “She does amazing portraits and has been a copyist in the Louvre, which is something you have to be invited to do.”
Works by Lanny Grant, Nicholas Coleman, Stanislas Kostka, Jason Mehl, Javier Arce, Christian Tasso, Tom Vaughan, Carol Thompson and more are also hanging in the gallery. “Right now we have about 12 artists, and by the end of August we will have around 22,” Susan said.
“We have just been open a few weeks. Jason Mehl came up from Dallas and brought a contemporary and youthful energy and helped us hang the gallery. He will be back in August with more stuff,” she said.
Gary and Susan are also introducing Taton and Baird men’s dress hats from Utah to the area and digital art by Lucio Carvalho from Barzil. Cecy Turner, Dawne Broadfield, Larry DeGraff, Steven Hamsher and the Mike Donahue Private Collection are also new to the gallery.
The multi-room log cabin structure housing the gallery needed work, including extensive renovations in the main room, when the Kerrs took over. “The ceiling was all tiles in a drop ceiling. Gary did a lot of the work with some help from his brother and father,” Susan explained. The wood used to create the new ceiling was salvaged from a neighbor that needed a shed removed from the property. “Susan [Maxim] knew someone that said if we tear down the shed, we can have the wood. So, we pretty much took all the materials. The door, wood and metal were in there. Susan made the doors and [Allenspark Garage] cut the metal.”
The gallery vii has already seen visitors from across the country, and all age ranges. “It’s been fun. We’ve met people from Atlanta, Kansas City, Illinois. A lot of people up here are in retirement age and they already have their art collection so they just come in to look, and educate themselves and it’s more a social visit,” Susan said. “But there are also the young people who are starting their art collection and so that’s been interesting too.”
The gallery hosts several workshops and meet-the-artist nights each month. Visit the gallery on Oct. 7 during Estes Park’s First Friday Art Groove to enjoy some pie from the Baldpate Inn. Meet artist Mary Frankel, Oct. 13. She is influenced by Native Americans and will be showing arts with “A Western View.” Freddy Frankel will play guitar. Meet artist Dan D’Amico and enjoy his “Wildlife Perspective,” Oct. 22, featuring music by Sharon Arms. The gallery also sets up private session with its artists. Just contact them to find out more.
gallery vii is located at 9889 Hwy 7 in Allenspark. Visit thegalleryvii.com, e-mail email@example.com or call 303-747-2419 to learn more.
Originally published in the August 2016 issue of the MMAC Monthly