Contemporary art’s local champion | VailDaily.com

Contemporary art’s local champion

Wren Wertin
Bret Hartman"Suspend Series" by Alexandra Rowley
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“Museums,” she said. “I wanted to be near museums, and all of that art.”

Her taste has evolved – and continues to do so – though she’s always been interested in contemporary art. Eckenroth Gallery reflects her contemporary bent, with woven sculptures, wall-sized photographs and blown-and-carved glass. Located on Gore Creek Drive next door to the Sitzmark Lodge, white walls, large windows and a simple wood floor define the area. The long room is separated into two spaces by a glass wall. Eckenroth was heartily cautioned against that particular detail, but nobody can argue with the results: The space is full of clean lines and light.

“I can’t stand colored walls in a gallery,” she said vehemently. “The art should speak for itself.”

Eckenroth currently represents 10 artists, all of whom she knows personally. Even with artists she loves, she won’t accept a particular piece if she doesn’t truly believe in it.

“It is hard sending stuff back to an artist, but I don’t want to show stuff I don’t love,” she explained. “If I want to be their dealer, I help them most by selling their work.”

She works with emerging artists – not complete unknowns, but those who have yet to earn international reputations on a large scale.

“I really just go with my gut,” she explained. “I love the idea of working with young artists and helping to develop their careers. That’s the way the art world is – you want them in important collections so they’ll be considered important.”

Photography is a particular interest of hers. She thumbs her nose at anyone who doesn’t consider it to be a legitimate art form. She opened with a show dedicated entirely to the work of photographer Christopher Beane. His enormous red peony blooms on the wall, and mystical leaves capture the odd slant of light. Eckenroth has had an auspicious start, as she sold 35 pieces in her opening weekend. Yet the gallery is still full of work.

Another photographer, Alexandra Rowley, will soon have a space on the walls. Her “Suspend Series” is comprised of images of her mother in impossibly turquoise water. Both the viewer and the subject float.

“Photography to me is so interesting,” she said. “You’re seeing the subject of course, but through the artist’s eyes.”

Fine art photography is being picked up by museums now, said Eckenroth. The art world tends to follow that trend, and in auction houses photography is particularly exciting. Eckenroth is no stranger to auction houses, as she completed her Master’s at Sotheby’s in London. She worked at Claggett-Rey, an established gallery in Vail, for several years before making the move to go on her own. She also has another business with Lynsey Wiley. They work on corporate projects together; they’ve decked out the Ritz in Aspen and Bachelors Gulch with artwork.

“She’s always wanted to do this,” said Wiley about Eckenroth’s gallery.

Despite the valley’s propensity for Western art, there are no bronze horses in her gallery. But there is some crocheted copper sculpture. Tracy Krumm learned to crochet from her grandmother; her grandfather and father taught her blacksmithing. She now incorporates the two arts, as in her piece “shield/digger.” It resembles a large and graceful peacock feather with its intricate wirework and draping shape suspended from found objects.

Mark Chatterley’s sculptures, “Crows,” are just what they seem – large and solitary birds with a piercing stare more sensed than seen. Micheluzzi’s work can be seen, too. The Italian artist first blows his glass, then carves strips out of them, giving them an organic feel in keeping with the hand-friendly shapes. A particular coup for Eckenroth is representing painter Caio Fonseca, who will be in Vail later this winter during one of the many artist receptions/one man shows scheduled at the gallery.

Eckenroth Gallery is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. and on Sunday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. For more information call the gallery at 476-2300.

Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at wrenw@vaildaily.com or phone at 949-0555 ext. 618.




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