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New Gallery Openings

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All good things come in threes, they say, and this year it appears the trinity’s influence extends to the Wood River Valley’s art community. This year, three new venues complement the valley’s sophisticated gallery scene. 


As I am something of an artistic neophyte, I wander into Gilman Contemporary with a little trepidation. The gallery’s interior is an unintimidating urban mixture of glass and concrete; yet, I am reminded of a trendy Soho space, complete with haughty director swathed in black, sighing at my deficient knowledge of the contemporary art scene.

Once inside Gilman Contemporary, however, I am greeted by owner L’Anne Gilman, an unnervingly tall brunette wearing bright colors and a warm smile. She excuses my dilettante-like mumblings and guides me reassuringly about the gallery’s current collection. I ask Gilman about the gallery’s vision. She responds, “Our goal is to find emerging and midcareer artists . . . from all over the world, nationally, and locally . . . artists whose work is innovative and unique . . . who push their medium to a new level but who are accessible to a wide audience.”

As I wander around, I am particularly struck by the work of Southern California native, Alex Couwenberg. “I saw his painting online and fell in love” says Gilman. “He pushes the envelope with color, technique and form.” Reminiscent of hot rods and California pop culture, Couwenberg’s pieces are iridescently multilayered and startlingly finished like a custom surfboard.

This fall, Gilman Contemporary exhibits works by Robert Atwell, Amy Bird and Mike Stilkey. An example of Stilkey’s work hangs in Gilman’s office: a melancholy figure painted on a pile of antique books.

“Stilkey is a key emerging artist,” Gilman informs me. “He paints on vintage paper, record covers, books . . . he did an incredible installation at the Rice Gallery (in Houston, Texas)—wall-to-ceiling characters and animals painted on stacks of books.” Indeed, Gilman’s Stilkey offers a whimsical promise of what is to come at Gilman Contemporary.

So what other exhibitions can potential collectors look forward to this fall? “In October, we are showing local photographers,” says Gilman. “In November, works on paper, and, in December, ‘Small Wonders.’ Everything will be under 36 inches . . . works that are accessible and financially viable.”

As we talk, I get the feeling this gallery is Gilman’s dream come true. Yet, the dream was put on hold while “life” happened. Gilman got married, had three children, and worked in Ketchum-based galleries—for Gail Severn and Barbi Reed—on and off for 16 years. Gilman is forever indebted to these two women: “I would never be here if it wasn’t for them,” she says. However, the overwhelming desire to own her own place prompted Gilman to take the next step: “The children got older, and my husband said, ‘It’s your passion—go for it.’”

Gilman smiles with an air of incredulity. “Once I made the decision to go for it in February, we opened the gallery on May 26th . . . My husband Nick and Tom [Liston] worked around the clock to get it finished before the opening . . . we finished mopping the floor on the 25th and then we were hanging all night.”

The opening, with the help of Gilman’s director, Casey Hanranan and assistant director, Raine Kidder, was a major success. “You just don’t realize how supportive this community is,” laughs Gilman. “I was walking on air that night.”

I ask Gilman what it’s like to be living her passion. “If I can do my job and further an artist’s career . . . ” she smiles, “well, that’s the fun part.” >>>


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