Montgomery-Lee celebrates 20 years of fine art
Gallery will host anniversary open house
Twenty-year anniversaries are a big deal.
And it’s even a greater feat if you own an art gallery in Park City, said Montgomery-Lee Fine Art owner Linda Montgomery Lee.
“When we bought this building, we thought it would be nice to open a gallery,” Lee said during a Park Record interview.
So she and her husband, Craig, opened Montgomery-Lee Fine Art at 608 Main St. in 1996 and continue to serve clients and artists to this day.
To celebrate, Mongtomery-Lee Fine Art will host an open house from 6-9 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 8.
The event will feature new art by 15 of the 25 artists the gallery represents, as well as live music by Kelly Gibson and an array of hors d’oeuvres and desserts.
“We asked our artists to participate in a show of Park City-inspired paintings,” Lee said. “So they are painting works specifically for the show.”
The artists are:
- Joseph Alleman
- Ivan Blagorenko
- Dean Bradshaw
- David Dean
- John Hughes
- Keith Larson
- Mike Malm
- Robert Moore
- Bonnie Posselli
- Jeff Sojka
- Jake Songer
- Steve Songer
- Eric Thompson
- Don Weller
Most of the painters the gallery represents are from Utah, but the other artists who show work in the gallery hail from the West, including California, Idaho, Colorado and Montana.
“We have other artists with international reputations, as well,” Lee said. “We have some artists who have been with us for 18 years. Our artists stay with us.”
The gallery’s goal hasn’t changed from the day it opened its doors.
“We wanted to open a gallery of good artists who specialize in realism and impressionism, because those are my personal tastes,” Lee said. “While I appreciate all forms of art, everything we have in the gallery would be the art that I would put in my own home.”
Lee has tried to showcase a variety of artists within the realm of realism and impressionism.
“When new artists come in, we make sure they do fit within the boundaries of those styles, but do them differently so they don’t compete with the other artist that we already have,” she said. “After a while, you develop a reputation and it just perpetuates. Our artists bring us amazing pieces and it’s rare that we tell them that something they have done will not work in the gallery.”
Lee and her staff are highly selective when it comes to accepting a new artist into the fold.
“Every once in a while someone shows up that just knocks it out of the park,” she said. “But one of the most difficult things we’ve had to do over the past two decades is turn away some good artists. When we do have to do that, we always wish them the best and good luck in finding a good gallery.”
That sentiment is part of what Lee calls the “old-fashioned way of doing business.”
“Being in the gallery business all of these years, I think it’s all about relationships,” she said. “I consider our artists to be some of our greatest friends, because they have been with us for so long.”
Not only does Lee ask the artists to price their own works, the gallery staff throws them a party every summer.
“It’s such a great time that we spend together,” she said.
Lee also prides the gallery’s relationships with her clients.
“People will come in and be drawn to a certain painting, but not know why,” Lee said. “So it’s our job to tell them more about the painting and the artist and help them understand why they may be drawn to it.”
Lee’s daughter, gallery director Jennifer Lee Fargo, said the staff is dedicated to treating their clients honestly and fairly.
“We don’t view them as people who are just coming in one time just to buy something,” she said. “We want them to buy from us over and over throughout the years because we value our relationships with them.”
Through those connections, clients have also become great friends.
“Since we’ve had so many good conversations, we know where they are in their lives,” Lee said. “When they show up at our door, it’s like a reunion.”
The family feeling extends throughout the staff as well.
“I think having good relationships with the people you work with is a key to having a successful gallery,” Lee said. “We’ve been here 20 years, so I think we’re doing something right. It’s gone by really quickly. Life just flies by.”
Reflecting on the past 240 months, Lee said she didn’t always want to be a gallery owner.
“I have a degree in art education, and my husband and I started collecting art early on in our marriage,” she said. “Then my husband really got into it.”
Through those connections, they wound up with many artist friends.
“Then we had outside sources telling us we needed to open a gallery and at that time, there weren’t many galleries on Main Street,” Lee said. “There was not even a handful, and we knew all the owners. Now, the galleries keep coming and going.”
When Lee and her husband purchased their building in 1996, they didn’t even have a proper front door.
“There were other businesses in the building and everyone came through some double doors,” Lee said. “The only access we had to the street was a display window
we had to climb over.”
A few years later, the building went through renovation and the gallery finally got a front door.
“I’m proud of how it looks and proud of the design,” Lee said.
The Montgomery-Lee Fine Art space measures nearly 2,600 to 2,700 square feet, and that includes three floors.
“The top floor isn’t finished, but we do hope to expand so we can showcase our large works,” Lee said. “That is a goal for the next few years.”
Meanwhile, Lee will focus on presenting high quality art to old and new clients.
“I love it when someone comes in and are attracted to a painting and they are so excited and jazzed about having that painting in their home,” she said. “Sometimes we are lucky enough to see it hung. Other times we ship paintings out of the state or country and don’t get to see where it ends up, but every once in a while, people send us a photo. It’s all about connecting people with something they love.”
Montgomery-Lee Fine Art, 608 Main St., will celebrate its 20th anniversary open house from 6-9 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 8. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call 435-655-3264 or visit http://www.montgomeryleefineart.com.
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