Ready to prove that Salt Lake City does have a thriving art scene and that art sales really are turning around, Mark and Sherrie Slusser, have opened the doors to Slusser Gallery in a split-level office-building on 100 South. |1|
It’s a brand new business venture for the couple, who also owned and operated a studio gallery in La Jolla, CA for three years. And it takes full advantage of the large open space in a building they’ve owned for a decade.|2-3|
With more than 1,200 square feet of gallery space in a large room with track lighting and a grand piano,|4| the Slussers look forward to hosting monthly receptions on the 3rd Friday Gallery Stroll (The October 21 Gallery Stroll marked their official opening as a full participant in the Salt Lake Gallery Association’s monthly art stroll). The current exhibit features Mark Slusser’s contemporary realism paintings – plein air landscapes and still life paintings. |5-6| The November stroll will feature oil paintings by Jonathan Fairbanks, a Utah native and award-winning landscape painter based in Boston. |7|
The Slussers are also eager to work with local artists and welcome emailed proposals followed by a visit. Mark says, “I’d like to be the kind of gallery owner I’ve never met – a nice one. I don’t want to put on a big show of ‘I’m untouchable and you can’t talk to me.’ I want a rapport with artists. I want to be approachable. And the same thing with buyers and investors.”
Though the business is new, the Slussers are no strangers to Utah. Mark is a Utah native and graduated from Olympus High School. Though he has always painted, he made a mid-career decision to go to the University of Utah to earn a B.F.A. degree in painting and drawing. There, he studied with Paul Davis, Dave Dornan, John Erickson, and Doug Snow, before graduating in 2005.
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In 2008, when his older daughter was accepted to the University of California-San Diego, Mark, Sherrie, and their younger daughter moved there too. Mark took up painting full-time and Sherrie managed his small gallery business in La Jolla. He also participated in annual art festivals in the region. The improvement in sales year-to-year is what makes Mark optimistic that the art business is on the verge of recovery.
In August of this year, the Slussers returned to Salt Lake City. For many reasons, they expect their new gallery business to be more successful than the one they left behind in La Jolla. For one, they have many friends and contacts here, including collectors of Mark’s work, from which to build a database of potential clients. Another advantage is the relative ease of travel in the Salt Lake region and the availability of parking in the lot adjacent to the building and on the street.
In addition to the gallery space, their building also houses City Creek Hearing, in which Mark is a partner, and several other businesses and available office space. Mark also has a studio in a space downstairs.
According to Mark, Sherrie is “the business brains” of the operation. With a law degree and business management experience, she manages the business while Mark paints full time.
Plans also include selling affordable frames to local artists. While in San Diego, they found a great wholesale source for ready-made frames and they want to make them available here in Utah.
For artists who show work in the gallery, the Slussers will provide publicity, receptions, and sales transactions in exchange for a 50 percent commission. “Because Mark is an artist, we have the artist’s perspective,” says Sherrie. “We know how hard it is to find places to show your work.”
This article appeared in the November 2011 edition of 15 Bytes.
Sue Martin holds an M.A. in Theatre and has worked in public relations. As an artist, she works in watercolor, oil, and acrylic to capture Utah landscapes or the beauty of everyday objects in still life.