News Column

Galler-ama: Blue Rain, Chuck Jones & Nedra Matteucci

July 11, 2014

By Paul Weideman, The Santa Fe New Mexican

July 11--Blue Rain Gallery, 130 Lincoln Ave., 505-954-9902

The three top sellers at Blue Rain Gallery are contemporary Native American artists Tammy Garcia (Santa Clara Pueblo), Preston Singletary (Tlingit), and Tony Abeyta (Navajo). "We've been with each of these artists for over 20 years," said owner Leroy Garcia. "They've all been very innovative forces in their respective careers, and they've each become multimillion-dollar-a-year artists." Pressed to name the gallery's top performer, he said Garcia's deeply incised pottery "is by far the most collectible art we sell." Right behind those three stars, and "ready to explode," are artists Jim Vogel, Erin Currier, Rimi Yang, and Roseta Santiago, the gallery owner said. Blue Rain sells to collectors and institutions across the United States, and, in Garcia's case, the venue has sent works to Sweden and Germany. Most of the collectors have visited the showroom, but the gallery also has enjoyed exposure from doing shows in Chicago, New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. Asked about their best-selling genre, Leroy Garcia said it's split among glass, bronze, and paintings. "Tammy does glass and bronze, but her strength is still in the clay. A new article in Western Art Collector has Jackie Autry saying that Tammy Garcia is the equivalent of Howard Terpning in her genre. Her pots, which sell in the six digits, are sold out; it's almost by commission only at this point."

----Chuck Jones Gallery, 135 W. Palace Ave., 505-983-5999

Marie Ciattini, art consultant at Chuck Jones Gallery, said that people "really love the Chuck Jones cels because of the rarity and the art of it, since nowadays everything in animation is computerized. These are all hand painted. It's a part of history." Her choice -- because Pasatiempo was asking for each gallery's most popular or best-selling artist or artwork -- was Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner. "It was inspired by New Mexico, so it kind of makes sense. But so is Marvin the Martian, which was inspired by Roswell." Jones (1912-2002) was the creator and director of cartoons featuring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, PepÉ Le Pew, and other characters that were shown in the Warner Bros. series Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies. The director of Chuck Jones Gallery in Santa Fe (there are similar locations in Costa Mesa and San Diego, California) is Toshi Sanchez. His selection for most-popular item in the store was one of the famous bunny's scenes. "I would say that on a consistent basis it's the cel 'I Knew I Should've Taken That Left Turn at Albuquerque.'" He said about 60 percent of his customers are walk-ins and the remainder are repeat buyers. Animation cels by the gallery's namesake are its bestsellers, but close behind are cels by Dr. Seuss and Fabio Napoleoni. The highest-priced items include rarities from the "minority characters" of cartoon land. A good example is Gossamer, a hairy orange monster wearing tennis shoes, from Chuck Jones' pen.

----Nedra Matteucci Galleries, 1075 Paseo de Peralta, 505-982-4631

This 40-year-old gallery founded by Nedra Matteucci specializes in works by members of the Taos Society of Artists, as well as works by other American artists of the past and con- temporary painters and sculptors, including William Acheff, Terri Kelly Moyers, Glenna Goodacre, and Dan Ostermiller. Pressured to name a top work or artist, she and her gallery director, Dustin Belyeu, decided on Russian Snow Scene, a dazzling 1914 painting by Leon Gaspard. The artist, born in Russia, moved to Taos and lived there for more than four decades. His work is distinguished from that of his Taos brethren by its focus on his motherland and other far-flung locales, portrayed in vibrant colors. Gaspard died in 1964. The gallery's recent show of paintings by contemporary Taos painter Chris Morel was a success, as is an exhibition of Ostermiller outdoor sculptures at the Powell Gardens in Kansas City. "If you get anything new and fresh on the market in historic paintings or by a Taos artist, they sell very well," Matteucci said. Both paintings and sculpture pieces are moving well -- including larger works selling to botanical gardens, zoos, and corporations. "We have found that we're getting people back who are buying the living artists. Everything had been dry for a few years, but people seem to be coming back, and everybody's doing a little better," Matteucci commented. "June is usually a slower month, but this June was active. We feel very good about the market."


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Source: Santa Fe New Mexican, The (NM)

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