This Friday, Park City’s Gallery MAR opens an exhibition celebrating 15 years of business with a show that focuses on the gallery’s roster: all 30 artists will be represented by works that measure 15 x 15 inches. All that work wouldn’t come together without the vision of the gallery’s founder, namesake and owner, Maren Mullin.
Mullin grew up in Everett, Washington, where she worked for Bargreen’s, her family’s coffee business that dates back to the late 19th century. After studying Art and English Pepperdine University, she moved to Park City in 2003, working a variety of jobs before finding a home at Meyer Gallery. Within four months she was the gallery’s director, and owner Susan Meyer told her, “You’ll have your own gallery someday.” Four years later that became a reality.
“At night, when the 1000 sq.-foot space is lit up, it is eye-catching,” is what we wrote in 2008, when Mullin opened her space at 580 E. Main, in Park City. (Our article, Mullin notes a decade and a half later, was her first interview.) “Once inside [you] will find an intimate setting, a range of affordable pieces by emerging artists, and Bargreen’s smiling face,” the article continued. “As one might expect from a Park City gallery, landscapes dominate the walls, but they share space with detailed still lifes, whimsical figurative works, sculpture and ceramics.” Because the space was not expansive, most works were modest in size. Looking back, Mullin says that first space “was just ideal: a small enough location to get started and to take risks.”
Gallery MAR opened in the middle of a recession, surrounded by competition, but that didn’t seem to put a dent in Mullin’s optimistic attitude. At 25, she didn’t feel she had much to lose, and the roll of the dice paid off. “After four years in town she is known to many and has been pleased with the number of people that have sought her out,” we wrote in 2008. “But she notes enthusiastically, that all of her sales have been to new clients, not former ones from Meyer.” Four years later, Gallery MAR was able to expand when they moves to their current location at 436 Main. The larger space allowed them to add artists to their roster and inches to the works displayed. In 2019, they expanded even further by taking over the lower level of their building, a 2000 square-foot space they call the Art Lounge: it provides the staff storage and prep space, but is also used as a casual space for clients to hang out and the gallery to host events. That same year Mullin opened Gallery MAR Carmel in Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA, with Tom Cushman, a co-worker from her days at Meyer Gallery.
“I was just recently looking back at my [original] business plan and vision for Gallery MAR …” she says. “The ideas, vision, and the sentiments are still very much the same as they were then: a place to connect collectors with artists and to also support the community here in Park City.”
Over the past two decades she has watched her adopted home of Park City expand, thanks in part to her husband, developer Matt Mullin. As the surrounding hills and valleys fill with communities, the gallery grows with them. “Our part-time home-owner and visitor is still a very important part of our market, as are designers and commercial builders,” she says. “The art market in Park City has remained consistent since our opening — though our offerings continue to change and diversify to meet their needs. Our buyers are the next generation from the collectors I was working with in the beginning, and their desires are subtly different. Tastes are always changing, but quality and accolades do not — and so we do not follow trends.”
“I’m most proud of the artists whose careers we have launched here,” Mullin says. “We have several artists who got their starts here, and now are in museum collections and galleries across the US. The fact that they can now support themselves full-time as artists and have a diverse career in the arts is incredible and my greatest accomplishment here.”
Not all of Mullin’s accomplishments have happened within the gallery. Since opening Gallery MAR, she has moved house six times, married, birthed two girls (now 7 and 9), adopted a dog and started several other businesses. She ran the Historic Park City Alliance for four years, was named Park City’s Business Woman of the Year in 2009 and was one of Utah Business Magazine’s 40 Under 40 in 2021.
She notes that the success of her gallery wouldn’t have happened without her her artists and her staff. “The most important part of my business is my artists: they are the reason why I am here today. Without them I am just a building with white walls. The second is my employees, and this is especially true for my manager Eileen. I have been fortunate to have had incredible staff over the last 15 years. Without the right team, a business cannot survive in this competitive market.” The gallery, however, is more than a business and Mullin says over the years it has become more and more personal, more connected with her identity as a person. “The gallery is my dream come true, and I look forward to the next 15 years.”
15 x 15, Gallery MAR, Park City, May 26 – June 9. Opening reception, Friday, March 26th, 6pm – 9pm. Meet several of the artists at the reception and enjoy live music and eats from Savoury Kitchen.
The founder of Artists of Utah and editor of its online magazine, 15 Bytes, Shawn Rossiter has undergraduate degrees in English, French and Italian Literature and studied Comparative Literature in graduate school before pursuing a career in art.