By Irene Middleman Thomas
Sanderosa Gallery operates with the rare business model of “salon hanging,” targeted to Northern Colorado-based artists. Rather than charging hefty commissions, as most galleries do, Sanderosa collects a small monthly “display fee,” akin to the system that hair salons use to rent space to stylists.
Typically, art galleries retain a percentage of the art sale price, with the remainder paid to the artist. Around 40 to 50 percent is the average but commissions can range from as low as 10 percent to up to 70 percent.
Sanderosa is owned by Nancy Sander, a visual artist and ‘Renaissance woman’ who has worked as a registered nurse in four states, while also raising Belgian horses and passionately pursuing her art. Sander moved to Laporte from Crescent City, Calif., to live near her four young grandchildren.
Sander has worked in oils, watercolors and acrylics and has also taught painting. Sander’s current specialty is giclée printing, a technical process using a special printer that makes exact reproductions on archival paper or canvas. Giclée (pronounced gee-klay) results in prints that are vibrant, rich and virtually indistinguishable from the original artwork.
Sander says that her income now comes from her work in giclée, and that the gallery is “for the artists,” not for making money from commissions. She explains that, as an artist, she found it very difficult to find galleries that would display and sell work without large commissions and restrictions. “Galleries were out of reach for most artists,” she says, “discouraging at best and formidable.” She decided to open a gallery in LaPorte that would promote the artists and sell their work for a small monthly fee, and not take commission, while also promoting her own giclée work. “The Northern Colorado area is a fantastic arts community,” she adds, with an “endless creative spirit.” In addition to gallery space for her current artist-tenants, Sanderosa also offers art restoration, frame repair and resizing of original work.
Artist Jeanne Mackenzie also lives in Laporte and specializes in plein-air (on-site, outdoor painting) oils of the Rocky Mountains. She says she was thrilled to have a new gallery in her town, although she also exhibits at other galleries. “Nancy really wants to promote local artists, and this is a great venue for the newer artists to hang in a gallery space. I enjoy featuring my smaller, more intimate paintings in the Sanderosa Gallery. These are pieces of art that I do not show in any other gallery.” Mackenzie notes that people are often amazed that plein-air paintings need to be finished in just a couple of hours because of changing light conditions. “Also, people may think plein-air is about going to exotic locations,” she explains. “It’s really about painting what’s around you and making it beautiful.”
Renee Walkup’s creative mind is spinning fast and furious. “I’m working on several themes right now,” she announces, “including ‘Southwestern,’ ‘Rhinestone Cowgirl’ and ‘Espresso Cream.’” No, they are not coffee drinks, rather, they are three additions to her whimsical, elegant musical mosaic projects, displayed prominently at the entrance of Sanderosa.
Walkup, a passionate upcycler, adorns discarded and unused musical string instruments with fancifully placed mosaic tiles, vintage jewelry, glass arrowheads, raku pottery, rubber discs, vintage jewelry, ceramic peppers, rhinestones, wool felt, metal of all kinds, copper, wire and wood blocks. “The three-dimensionality of mosaics has always fascinated me,” she says, adding that she also loves string instruments and enjoys giving them new life.
Walkup has lived in Fort Collins for five years. She spent her earlier career in sales and management, as well as corporate speaking and authored six books on communication skills. Traveling around the world with a hectic schedule, her childhood and family roots never drifted far from her thoughts. Her father was an oil painter and worked with mosaics, and her expansive home near the foothills is adorned with his eclectic array of work, as well as her own.
Walkup has made some 70 mosaic pieces, including 28 guitars, ukuleles and violins. Most have sold to collectors, with several being custom works. “A nationally renowned music store that serves the glitterati is currently promoting my work, which is very exciting,” she says. Each piece takes from 15 to 30 hours to complete in a painstaking process of cutting glass, prepping substrates, finding materials and placing them.
“I love to create movement and texture. As for the instrument shapes, I find them beautiful,” she says, adding that often, an instrument “speaks” to her, inspiring her direction.
She explains that when working on a guitar, for example, she might ‘visualize’ a body shape. “My guitars might imply a body, but stylistically. For example, my ‘Dolly,’ a pink guitar with lots of rhinestones and glam, has two breast-shaped rhinestone curves to imply that, yep, it’s Dolly, alright.”
Walkup always leaves the backs of the instruments in their original form. “I want people to see that these were once living, breathing instruments which made music, but now they have second lives. Lives that are visually compelling and stimulating in a different way than before.” The Sanderosa Art Gallery currently hosts 32 artists from the area, including Walkup and Mackenzie, as well as Sander herself. Sanderosa Art Gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, at 3101 Kintzley Court. A holiday open house at the gallery is slated for November 6.