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A heart for art and artists

New gallery, catalogue meant to help the undiscovered

Dennis Carroll | For The New Mexican
Published by The Santa Fe New Mexican, 9/7/2009 - 9/8/09

Gary Liggan's new art gallery and its associated catalog is changing the way the Santa Fe art community does business.

Liggan, 49, a Santa Fe native and veteran fine art and commercial photographer, says he has two main goals for his Northern New Mexico Art Catalogue Gallery: To offer relatively unknown artists more opportunities for exposure and sales, and to engender a sense of cooperation among the galleries, a group known more for fierce independence and rivalry than for economic collaboration.

Liggan’s Washington Avenue gallery.
(Photos by Natalie Guillén/The New Mexican

Liggan recently opened the gallery at 150 Washington Ave,Suite 103 with a ribbon-cutting by Mayor David Coss.

"I am doing something that nobody else is doing," Liggan said. "My heart is in representing artists and getting their work appreciated."

The artists, who often have been turned down by other galleries — or consider it a waste of time and effort to pitch their work to a gallery — "get a gallery in downtown Santa Fe," Liggan said. "Not bad." and they get 65% of the sale.

"I don't know of any gallery that takes so little from the artists," said Jessica Sirois, a silversmith and jewelry designer. Liggan's venture is "pretty phenomenal in creating opportunities for the artist," said Sirois, who has a page in the catalog and a spot in the gallery for her work, something she has never had in Santa Fe before.

She said one of the more exciting aspects of what Liggan is doing through the catalog is visually identifying the artists with their artwork, something she said traditional galleries seldom do or do so only on a limited basis.

Gary Liggan helps Cassie Raney hang her work in his gallery in August. Liggan appears to have developed a new approach to getting ‘undiscovered’ artists into a gallery.

Liggan's project has also attracted the attention of more established artists who have become frustrated with the traditional gallery experience.

"It makes it easy to show my work," said painter Carl Clasmeyer, who works in watercolors and oil. "I don't have to keep schmoozing."

Clasmeyer pulled out of a Canyon Road gallery to list in Liggan's catalog and show in the new gallery.

In another signal of cooperation among galleries, numerous owners are featured prominently in Liggan's catalog and show their artists' works in Liggan's gallery.

Liggan said 30 individual artists have work in his gallery, along with nine other galleries.

"It's like I have a satellite gallery," said Daniel Bethune, owner of Gallery Chartreuse. "I can spread my wings."

"The concept is truly cutting edge," said Robert Shropshire, owner of the Justin Robert Gallery. "We have limited money for advertising."

Shropshire said that having several galleries showing their artists' work in one gallery allows buyers to "see the spectrum of what Santa Fe has to offer" in one place.

Added Bethune, "We are all in the same (economic) boat. It's time we work as a community."

© The Santa Fe New Mexican