by Andrea Wall
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When gallery director Susan Meyer tells you Meyer Gallery is celebrating its golden anniversary, it’s hard to believe. Fifty years ago, the ski resort designed to rejuvenate what was a declining mining town was barely a year old, tourists were only beginning to trickle in and rundown wood cabins dotted the landscape now occupied by expensive condos. Her parents, Park City residents Darrell and Gerry Meyer, were working full time — he as a child welfare social worker and she as a nurse — when they purchased the old First National Bank building at 305 Main Street in 1965 and opened up shop. They ran what was originally called The Hanging Room Gallery during the weekends while working their full-time jobs. Meyer recalls helping her mother with the gallery when she was a young child. Eventually, Gerry was able to make the transition to running the gallery full time, while Darrell helped on the weekends.
Meyer’s parents traveled to many conventions and art shows across the country, building relationships with artists, encountering celebrities like Muhammad Ali, and forging strong bonds with American Indian artisans. “My parents developed close relationships with some of the native artists,” Meyer recalls, “and it was really magical to go to their various homes out on the reservation to purchase pottery directly from the artists. Some of those potters went on to become very famous but they lived in very humble homes.”
As Park City grew, Meyer Gallery did as well. Meyer’s parents were able to add a second floor on to the building space, and they opened a second gallery in Santa Fe, N.M., which highlighted many Utah artists and became a very popular space. During this time, Meyer was running a catering business in New York. As her parents began to talk about retirement and asked if she would like a chance to run the gallery, she says she “jumped at the chance.”
Today, Meyer Gallery is a space with a strong focus on promoting their artists to visitors from across the country. They keep a strong show schedule, and feel it is important to represent the most talented artists Utah has to offer. “It never made sense to ignore the rich wealth of talent in our own backyard,” Meyer says. Meyer also has an interest in finding out-of-state artists and featuring their work, bringing a new element of artistic inspiration into Utah, and showing the rich, compelling work many of those artists create.
In reflecting upon the gallery’s 50th anniversary, Meyer says: “I am finding it surprisingly emotional. It has caused me to reflect on how long I have been working with individual artists at the gallery.” She remembers life-changing conversations with some of the people with whom she has interacted over the years, including bringing attention to artists who needed help, or friends who have gone on to build their own gallery spaces. “The best thing is to see younger local artists have opportunity and exposure,” she says. “Many of them are mid-career now with homes and families and steady income streams from us and other markets beyond Utah. It is a great feeling to be a part of that.”
In the future, Meyer looks forward to working closely with international collectors, finding pieces that will suit their needs and desires, and also working within the community. She wants to increase the online presence of the gallery through social media outlets, and enrich the online experience that customers and collectors have while interacting with the gallery. She is working on several community boards, and looks forward to bringing in new employees with more highly specialized roles in the gallery.
As Meyer Gallery celebrates their 50th year as a fixture in the artistic community, they also are looking to the future, seeking out new adventures, and celebrating and sharing the beauty of artwork with many more people.
Meyer Gallery’s 50th Anniversary Party happens Friday, June 26th, from 6:30-8:30 pm. Visit meyergallery.com for more information.
UTAH’S ART MAGAZINE SINCE 2001, 15 Bytes is published by Artists of Utah, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah.