At the corner of Cooper Avenue and Eighth Street, a selection of colorful paintings, landscape photos mixed with decorative bowls, mugs and vases attract window shoppers to Cooper Corner Gallery.
Inside, artists and volunteers refreshed the selection last week with new works, new paint for the walls and a rotation of displays to keep the gallery fresh.
“We have 24 artists and 24 display locations in the store,” said Judy Burke, a clay artist who enjoys making mugs. “Once every three or four months or so, we rotate the space based on a schedule we created together.”
Unlike some art galleries, Cooper Corner is owned and operated by the artists, who take turns tending the registry and collectively making day-to-day business decisions.
“The atmosphere of the partnership is like a family,” said Annie Brooks, who works with glass and clay. “Because we all take turns running the shop, we have to get to know each other’s work, and in some cases I feel like I know other artists’ work almost as well as my own. .”
Working in partnership allows artists to avoid consignment fees, keeping their prices lower than what a client might expect at similar galleries.
“We want everyday working men and women to be able to afford art,” Brooks said.
A painter of all mediums except oil, Nancy Martin said the gallery appeals to art lovers of all ages.
“We get a surprising number of kids, who come to buy art for their parents and family,” Martin explained. “Art appreciation starts young, and we want to nurture it as much as possible.”
Becoming a gallery partner is a process, and like many aspects of the business, the process is facilitated by a committee of partners.
“I lead the jury committee,” Brooks said. “Which just means I’m the first point of contact for most applicants.”
Potential partners should be local, as part of partnering requires working at the store at least once a month. Once admitted, the partner is then trained on the register, store operations, artist rotation schedules and educated on the works of each of the 24 partners.
While egalitarian, the model is not a get-rich-quick scheme.
“None of us are paying our mortgages with this,” Brooks said. “But one of our greatest points of satisfaction is meeting with our customers. And it’s being part of a community of artists.
As the pandemic wanes, Burke said the gallery is looking forward to a year without face masks and hopefully without any natural disasters.
“The joy of being a partner here is meeting new people, new artists and adapting as life changes,” Burke said, recalling the roller coaster of running a business. local in 2020 and 2021.
Burke said the gallery’s clientele spans the West Slope, but locals keep the artists working.
“Our local customers are the reason we are here,” she said. “We are truly grateful for the support we have received, especially over the past two difficult years.”
Reporter Ike Fredregill can be reached at 970-384-9154 or by email at [email protected]