Meyer Gallery celebrates 50 years of art
June 23, 2015
The Meyer Gallery turns 50 this year.
So, curating director Susan Meyer decided this Friday was a "golden" opportunity to celebrate during the Park City Gallery Association’s Gallery Stroll.
The event will feature live jazz from the David Halladay Quartet and food catered by Done to Your Taste.
"I’ll also have a couple of surprises up our sleeves," Meyer said secretively during an interview with The Park Record. "We’ll see what we come up with."
The Meyer Gallery was originally known as the Hanging Room Gallery and was opened by Meyer’s parents, Darrell and Gerry Meyer, who are planning to attend the event.
"When it first opened, my mother was a nurse and my father was a social worker, who helped battered children in the state of Utah," Meyer explained. "It was located at the former First National Bank of Utah, down the street, and only open on the weekends."
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After purchasing the building at 305 Main St., where the gallery is still located today, Meyer’s parents moved the art and rechristened the Hanging Room Gallery into the Meyer Gallery.
"The place was totally 1960s," Meyer said. "They covered the walls with old barn wood from one of the barns that had come down and tacked the watercolors onto the wall. The also asked some local potters in town to show their pottery."
Park City wasn’t high end at the time, so the gallery fit the times, according to Meyer.
"My parents sat in with the Historic Society at the time and helped build the first arts festival, which was known as the Art Show that took place in the blue church on the hill," she said. "The festival eventually got moved down to the Kimball Art Center and eventually became the Park City Kimball Arts Festival."
As the gallery gained momentum, Meyer’s mother was able to stop nursing.
"Dad continued to do his social working, because we only averaged one sale a week for a long time," Meyer said with a smile.
Also, running the gallery was a challenge because her parents didn’t have any art background.
"So, my parents visited art studios and learned from the artists," Meyer said. "They would also pile me and my baby brother Dirk into the car and we’d go to art sales and art auctions all over the country."
Meyer remembers the family participated in a big art expo in Chicago and learned the tricks of the trade through what she called "this baptism of fire."
One of Meyer’s first jobs at the gallery was selling minerals.
"I was four years old when they opened and my parents would bring me in," she said. "My dad found an old school bench and put it on the sidewalk outside the gallery. Then he and I would walk into the mines, which we could still do at the time, and collect iron pyrite. So, I would sell these pieces of pyrite for 25 or 50 cents."
Meyer has fond memories of what Park City was like back then.
"What I really loved was the town," she said. "Where 350 Main (restaurant) is now, used to be grocery store and my mom would send me there to get stuff. I just had to sign a paper, because we didn’t have to pay until later."
The hardware store was located down the street and the Utah Power and Light electric building was where Silver currently stands.
"The library was on Main Street," Meyer said. "In fact, back then, Main Street felt more like a town than so much of a shopping district.
"There were also countless old homes that were labeled as condemned and as kids, we just had to go inside," she said. "What I loved about that was the people who once lived in those houses came from all around the world and they would use newspapers as insulation. So we would find newsprint that had Chinese or Russian writing."
Throughout Meyer’s formative years, there was never a question that she would eventually take over the gallery. She even used her time living in New York as training.
"I was there with my then husband and I was a restaurant manager and then owned a catering business," she said. "It was a fabulous education and ethnically, I was exposed to many different cultures. Professionally, learning how to negotiate business in New York was extremely beneficial."
Meyer, who is the current president of the Park City Gallery Association, also explored and visited all the galleries out there, including others up and down the East Coast.
"Visiting art galleries in New York was an interesting experience, but also a difficult experience," she said. "Before the Chelsea District, you had to go up four levels and get buzzed into a room to look at a gallery. It was a challenge."
When Meyer returned to Utah a few years later, her parents asked if I wanted to take over the gallery.
"I realized that we had developed something special in Park City in terms of an art district," she said. "To this day, I don’t take that for granted, because having an art district is nice for people who come into town to easily see art."
The Meyer Gallery currently represents 40 artists and 30 of them are from Utah, including the late H. Francis Sellers, who was a Park City resident.
"He was represented by the Meyer Gallery from opening day until he passed away in 2011," Meyer said. "We represented him for 46 years, which was the longest amount of time we have had any artist
"We currently have many artists we have represented for more than 30 years, and others we have represented for a long time," she said. "I’ve always been primarily devoted to our Utah-based artists first. I feel good about keeping the money inside the state."
Meyer Gallery, 305 Main St., will celebrate its 50th anniversary during the Park City Gallery Association Gallery Stroll on Friday, June 26, from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit http://www.meyergallery.com .
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