Tumbleweeds rolls into Heber
Inconsistency is what Scott Gutierrez is all about.
"I’m very inconsistent," he said, regarding his trade, which has provided him a living.
His work has been shown in various galleries, including Park City’s Coda Gallery, but that hasn’t given him the satisfaction that an artist yearns for.
Galleries ask artists to provide much of the same work, such as "12 paintings" he said. But Gutierrez, on the other hand, needs to expand his work to include taking out the paint brush one day, sculpting another and creating furniture the next.
"I’m doing a self-indulgent thing. For the way I do art, it’s hard for me to submit to galleries," Gutierrez said. "I do a bunch of different things."
To do "a bunch of things" while still making a living at it, he started Tumbleweeds, an art gallery-meets-furniture store last February.
"It’s a re-sale store but it’s also retail and a boutique gallery and one-of-a-kind pieces of work that I made," Gutierrez said.
Most of the furniture he makes comes from thrift stores or random places where he finds old, beat up items that have potential.
"Most of it revolves around building from scraps," he said. "I find stuff that people throw away, that’s damaged or broken, and then I give it a different look by painting or lacquering it and give it a new life."
Gutierrez said he gives life to old desks "that look like cheesy office furniture." He pays special attention to items that have been made in the U.S., which he said are becoming more popular.
"The whole mid-century, retro, post-modern stuff made in the 60s, that’s really hot right now. If you can find that stuff, some of it is very collectable. It’s hard to find any furniture that’s made in America," Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez is surprised at the gems he finds at thrift stores or on eBay.
"People aren’t building furniture from scratch anymore. Finding what’s there and making it work, there’s so much of it out there. The things people get rid of are amazing."
He’s especially trying to include work that was made locally.
"I’m trying to maintain a quality, like a boutique quality," Gutierrez said. "There are no imports. I’m trying to keep everything local."
He also features some other local artists and provides an eclectic mix of work for his customers.
"I make furniture, I paint and sculpt and I’m trying to cater to other artists as well. I’m flying by the seat of my pants," he said.
His schooling was in art, but soon after he graduated, he started making furniture. Gutierrez thought furniture would provide a better income because of its functionality. Later, he realized furniture would never replace paintings and sculptures as art.
"One of the problems with furniture," he said, "for most people is, it’s hard to transcend to art. There are a lot of good examples of it out there. It will never compete with paintings and sculptures, but there is some really famous furniture out there that is very desirable."
His work, he said, cateres a little more to the younger crowd.
"It’s original and funky and it’s borderline whether it passes in Heber," he said. "The response that I have is really good and positive. It’s good for a younger hipper crowd but there’s something for everyone in here. I don’t try to pigeonhole myself."
His work includes a piece of furniture he found that was built in the 60s from Grand Rapids.
"It looked ugly," Gutierrez said.
But it was like the Ugly Duckling. He saw through the old lacquer that had clouded up and given a plastic look to the piece.
"If you see the design through all the colors, you can usually make something of it," Gutierrez said. "Usually, you just look at the lines of what it is. If the lines have stylish lines, you can always repaint it or strip it down and finish it."
By taking off the old finish, someone can often find beauty on the inside and the Ugly Duckling turns into a swan.
"I stripped it down and it had a beautiful walnut grain to it," he said.
Usually, he said, thrift stores don’t have the skill to turn old furniture into masterpieces.
"If it’s damaged or broken, some thrift stores don’t have the ability to repair it," he said.
Recently, he’s found a niche in making unique coffee tables out of old pinball machines.
"These old pinball games from the 60s and 70s, you can’t use them anymore and I take the playfield and turn it into a coffee table," Gutierrez said. "Right now I have an old Western theme one, a Superman one, I have an old Evel Knievel and a KISS one from 1977. It’s very Americana. Those get good response."
He is constantly searching for new variety to add to his shop.
"Everything I get, it just adds to the whole picture," he said. "It all works together. I mix modern stuff with antiques and a little bit of rustic here and there."
He chose to open his shop in Heber Old Town by the Snake Creek Grill rather than other parts of the Wasatch Back because of the future growth of the area.
"Heber is exploding right now," he said. "There’s so much development out here. Main Street is getting a couple cool trendy restaurants and people are heading in this direction. They are fixing it up nicely."
Tumbleweeds is located at 670 West 100 south in Heber. For more information, call (435) 640-6573.
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When it comes to the U.S. census, let’s just say Park City has… room for improvement.