Today we’d like to introduce you to Blair Vaughn-Gruler.
Blair, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I am a painter and my husband, Ernst Gruler, is also an artist. We had been living in Sedona, Arizona and making most of our living through selling our artwork and real estate projects when 2008 happened. The galleries that were representing us started to close, and of course, the real estate market changed dramatically. We decided to move to Santa Fe, New Mexico and open our own art gallery.
This was not completely out of left field: we had had a successful retail venture for 12 years in the boutique business, so knew something about retail, we had art inventory of our own, and knew a plethora of professional artists to possibly represent, and I was in graduate school in a low residency, research-based MFA program that had me deeply immersed in the art world on many levels.
That was almost 10 years ago. Our gallery, GVG Contemporary, is thriving and we have built solid reputations for ourselves as artists and for the other artists, we represent. We are considered one of the best contemporary galleries in this city of over 200 galleries, which is humbling and also a testament to believing in yourself, staying the course and hard work! Our collectors are from all over the country – including many in Atlanta – and also from around the globe.
Of course, there was a certain amount of – shall we say “discomfort” involved in diving into a new business in a new city as the bank accounts dwindled and the stakes kept getting higher. Did I mention that our 2 sons were also in college and grad school at the time?
With nowhere to go but up, we developed a vision and have watched it manifest. My own work has continued to develop and gain more presence in the art world. While the retail sales of my paintings are gratifying, the best part is growing as an artist and having the opportunity to be immersed in a meaningful art practice.
My husband Ernst has had a similar experience with his own work, and those 2 sons, both also artists, have made their homes in Santa Fe as well, Both of them have been founding members of the artist collective known as Meow Wolf, which has taken the art world by storm https://meowwolf.com.
Out of a scary time came a wonderful future. We re grateful we took the leap.
Has it been a smooth road?
The first summer we opened our gallery, we were just about out of money. I was flying out to the summer residency for my grad school program and had no funds to get back at the end, 2 weeks later. The day my husband had a $5,000 art sale about halfway through the residency meant I could return home after all. It was an incredible relief – and an affirmation that we were going in the right direction after all.
From there, the emotional and financial roller coaster ride continued for several years as the economy struggled and we worked to build a new business within it. Each sale, no matter how small, usually meant we could get groceries. Many, many months we pulled off paying our rents by making a sale on the last day of the month, like some kind of miracle.
And then slowly, about 5 years in, we started to see sales numbers that were more predictable. Repeat collectors, new opportunities to show our work and good employees have helped to smooth out the roller coaster.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with GVG Contemporary – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
We are a contemporary, artist-owned art gallery in a city with over 200 galleries – the 3rd largest art market in the US.
I am quite proud of being able to maintain the title of an artist owned gallery because it is really 2 full-time jobs (artist and gallerist).
We specialize in paintings, sculpture, fine art furniture and jewelry by mid-career and emerging artists. The paintings we show are predominately non-objective (abstract), and all the work is material forward.
I am also proud of our customer service, and consider the gallery to also be an educational venue. Gallery owners and staff always work to help people understand the art world – especially in terms of contemporary art – all day every day.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
Santa Fe is a wonderful artist community.
- Artwork available at GVG Contemporary ranges from $100 to $30,000
- Address: 241 Delgado Street
Santa Fe, NM 87501
- Website: gvgcontemporary.com
- Phone: 505-982-1494
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @gvgcontemporary
- Facebook: gvgcontemporary
Amy Sanford, Ernst Gruler, Blair Vaughn-Gruler