Carol Fulton takes a closer look at Karl Pace and Martha Klein, who were one of the couple’s featured in this month’s special feature on artist couples and who will be having an exhibit opening this evening.
photos by Bill Fulton
“It has never been agonizing or anything less than pleasant to work together,” says artist Karl Pace about making and selling art with his wife Martha Klein. Many artists work together, but Pace and Klein also sell together, on the art festival circuit as well as local shows. This is a second marriage for both of them. They share an addiction to documentaries about artists, love gardening, and have really enjoyed traveling together for 11 years doing the Art Festival Circuit around the Western part of the U.S. It wasn’t something you could just breeze into – there’s a lot of pre-planning, applying to the festivals, packing the truck, setting up and striking the booths, figuring out pricing, how to do the credit card thing, how to get to the venue, where to stay at a reasonable price. And of course there’s making all the art to take to the festivals.
Martha used to co-own a craft cooperative in downtown Salt Lake City, back when she worked in textiles. She says there were about a dozen members and inevitably there was tension, competition, anger. So when she and Karl decided to go on the Festival circuit, she put a lot of thought into how to make it work. They pro-rated everything, keeping track of their expenses, how much each made in sales, so the person who made more in sales paid more of the overall expenses. They always had two booths, but made sure they were next to each other. The cost of getting there would be the same, just the booth would be extra. “We’ve always kept our finances separate, but we’re one. We are kind of an ‘us,’” says Martha. Both of them have won several awards at festivals, including a few “Best In Show.” That’s no mean feat considering the number of participants at any given venue.
The only disagreements the couple runs into are about what art to buy or trade to hang in their house. Things are quickly resolved — Karl, with tongue in cheek, says, “I just let her have her way” and Martha laughingly adds, “Because I’m right.”
The couple met years ago in college, where both were pursuing degrees in English, but lost contact for many years. At present Martha works as an editor for graduates’ programs at the University of Utah (not as a teacher, as was mistakenly stated in this issue’s article on artist couples). Karl started out with an ad agency and now does market research. Both of them gradually made their way into the art world, so that when they met again they still had a common, though new, interest, art. They are sensible about it … “You’d better figure out how you’re going to support yourself if you’re not in the highest echelons of successful artists,” say Karl. Martha adds, “The only downs are financial, so as an artist couple you must sit down and reassess your goals often.” Excellent advice for all of us from folks who seem to have it all figured out.
Karl Pace and Martha Klein are exhibiting new works at Evolutionary Healthcare (461 East 200 South, Suite 100 – across from Phillips Gallery). The exhibit opens Friday, February 18, 6-9 pm and continues through April 13. The gallery is open to the public Monday to Friday, 8-5pm. You can view their artwork at www.kleinpaceart.com.
Carol Fulton got her degree in radio and television production a long time ago. She was born in Brazil and lived in many countries. Now retired from the airline industry, she dabbles in oil painting and found-object sculpture.