Some Vail galleries gaining ground |

Some Vail galleries gaining ground

Melanie Wong
Vail, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyVail, Colorado hallery owner, Marc LeVarn patches up a hole in the wall where a painting that he recently sold had hung at the Vail International Gallery Wednesday

VAIL, Colorado ” Quite a few people who have walked into the Vail International Gallery in Vail, Colorado have asked owner Marc LeVarn how the art gallery is faring in the recession ” and lately, he’s been pleased to answer, “Surprisingly good.”

LeVarn, along with some other galleries in Vail, have said that business has taken a turn for the better in the last few weeks, following months of tough times.

“Fall was a real panic time for everybody,” he said. “There was a lot of apprehension about how the season was going to go. In the last two weeks it seems like some of our clients have seemed to accept where they are, and they’re ready to have fun again.”

Vail International Gallery specializes in Russian Impressionism, contemporary American art, European and South American art, and sees about half of its businesses from return clients.

Vail Fine Arts manager Gretchen Greene said her gallery has seen a similar trend in the past month.

“All of us have felt the crunch since last summer, when the economy really took a turn. It took longer for our clientele to relax and start to buy again,” she said. “We’re happy with our results. This past month we’ve been doing quite well, I’ll just put it that way.”

Still, the improved business is a small bright spot in what has been a very gloomy year, other galleries said.

Vail Village Arts owner John Vickers said that he’s been selling more art lately, but attributed the small upswing to the yearly Spring Break boost.

“Typically a good couple of weeks, but sales are still down significantly over the last couple years,” he said. “Sales for me are running roughly at 2005-2006 numbers.”

Fewer skiers and vacationers have been in the village this winter, which has hurt business considerably, Vickers said.

“I rely heavily on the visitor walking through my door,” he said. “As visitor numbers are down this winter, sales are going to follow. I need numbers of people coming in the gallery to have the chance to make the sale.”

Kurt Anding, manager of DeMott Gallery, said that despite a prime location on Gore Creek Drive in the village, the gallery has been quiet.

“Walk-in traffic is as dreadful as it’s ever been. It’s laughable. When there’s a day with one person coming in ” you know it’s rough,” he said.

The gallery has been in business 13 years, and this is by far the worse economy he’s seen, Anding said ” and not just in the art business. Usually high-end art buyers are able to weather bad economies better than most, but it hasn’t been the case this time, he said.

“People say they’re not doing anything. They’re afraid to spend money ” they actually feel guilty spending money. They know if they go spend money on this art, that someone else out there is suffering,” he said.

Many assume that art buying would be one of the first luxuries to go in a recession, but it isn’t always the case, said Anding.

This time, the gallery is holding on ” for now, he said grimly.

“As of now, yeah, we’re here. If this continues, there’s no saying what could happen. We’re not immune,” he said.

LeVarn said he’s optimistic that Vail is faring better than other places. The community really seems to be cheering for its own businesses, he said.

“I’ve been in the art business in Vail since 1995,” he said. “I saw big swings up and big swings down. There are good years and bad years. But overall this time, I think Vail seems to be doing OK. This is a great community, and I am so thankful for it.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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