Galleries want more control over stroll
Several Park City art galleries may be moving away from their partnership with the Kimball Art Center.
Coda Gallery owner Connie Katz said the gallery association may begin handling its own advertising and promotion within the next few months.
"We’ve let Kimball do it before and it became all about Kimball," Katz said. "We’re just going to make the money go further."
For one, Katz wants to reduce membership fees. She also wants to increase solidarity among the gallery stores in Park City.
Katz has owned Coda for 11 years and has galleries in New York and Palm Desert, Calif., where she helped spearhead a gallery association. She said the goal of the switch would be to make art sellers more visible and turn Park City into a gallery destination.
Katz said the association wants new events as well as a new brochure, map and website. She said the association would also consider altering the gallery stroll route. "We’ve got to punch this up," Katz said, "make the galleries stronger together. . . We were a little fearful because we didn’t want to do it all by ourselves. We want Kimball to be involved. We’re not taking anything away from them. We just want it to be bigger."
Julie Nester, who owns Julie Nester Gallery on Bonanza Drive, confirmed that the gallery association has met three times since April. However, she said no final decisions have been made.
In the past, merchants have each paid the Kimball between $1,500 and $1,800 a year to be included in the gallery stroll and a map and brochure. The art nonprofit led the Friday gallery stroll for the last several years.
"We just wanted [the galleries] to have more involvement," Nester explained in a telephone interview. "Before, Kimball made all the decisions. Now we’ll all make the decisions."
Most gallery owners agree that Friday gallery strolls have been good for Main Street and good for business, but some say the galleries need stronger support from the Kimball.
During strolls, the Kimball hosts a party from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and asks for a $7 donation for a drink and walk through its garage studio. Some gallery owners say the fee discourages visitors. Kimball also gives out prizes in a free drawing for each week, according to Kimball communications director Julie Baker.
Merchants claim the soiree diverts foot traffic and detracts from the purpose of the stroll itself: to promote art.
"Gallery strolls have been pretty good," said Jennifer Fargo, who owns Lanny Barnard Gallery. "The only thing is people were hurrying back to Kimball for prizes."
Baker said the Kimball plans to go ahead with the May 30 gallery stroll as usual with a drawing and party.
She said Kimball events do not detract from private galleries. "People recognize the difference between an art nonprofit and a for-profit gallery," she said. "The Kimball is just 100 percent supportive of the gallery stroll. It’s a very important part of any community."
Baker said donations help the nonprofit provide free art education to the public and support artists. In addition to raising money, the $7 donations help the Kimball comply with state liquor laws. Representatives from the Kimball plan to attend the gallery association’s next meeting June 5.
Plans for the revamped art association included seven volunteer positions to help with Web design, brochures, maps and other activities, Connie Katz said. "All the owners are coming [to the meetings]," she said. "Everyone’s caring. Everyone’s respectful."
Julie Nester said she hopes a more active and independent gallery association will add to a sense of solidarity among art sellers in Park City. "We all want the same thing," she said, "and that’s to make Park City an art destination."
Two people indicated in interviews they are considering mounting campaigns for the Park City Council, a signal the City Hall election could attract an intriguing slate of candidates in a year when the majority of the five seats are on the ballot.