Gallery Spotlights | Visual Arts

E Street Gallery

E Street Gallery owners Sandra Jensen and Cruser Rowland have a business card which reads “Seek the Unique.” Nothing could be more true while visiting the E Street Gallery.

Nestled in the historic Avenues District at the lower end of E Street in Salt Lake City, this beautiful gallery has something for everyone. Entering the gallery is a visual overload, as it is literally packed full of paintings, pottery, furniture, jewelry and a plethora of intriguing items.

“Eclectic” is the word Jensen uses to describe her gallery — “The cohesive unit is the fact that everything is hand made by different artists. We have fine art, we have beautiful furniture, we have glass and pottery; we have a little bit of everything.” Most of the objects she has, such as the paintings, pots, wooden bowls, jewelry and glass are from local artists.

What one notices when first entering the gallery are the large, brightly colored furniture pieces, where vivid, hand painted colors intermix with marbles, broom handles and other unique items. Their exquisite workmanship, done by hand by Houston artist David Marsh, makes each piece a treasure. Marsh is a childhood friend of Rowland, who himself is a master craftsman and sought after commissioned furniture maker.

Most of the work shown at the gallery is by local artists, and if an artist is interested in showing and selling at the E Street gallery, Jensen says, “We simply look at the work and see if it’s appropriate to the space. I would love to show big sculpture, but obviously I can’t because of the space.” Jensen makes adept use of her space, packing every nook and cranny to the hilt. It would literally take hours to see every piece in the gallery, but doing so would be hours well spent.

Jensen was raised in Utah, and after graduating from the University of Utah, went on to graduate school at the University of Washington, and then continued at Rice University in Houston. For years she worked as an art historian for private collector Dominique de Menil , and then went on to work at the Smithsonian Institute. After her father had a major heart attack, it seemed time for Jensen and Rowland to come back to Utah to help her family.

While previously visiting Salt Lake, Jensen and her husband saw the building on E Street while driving through the Avenues. “This space was basically a dump but we loved the windows in the front. It was totally a disaster.”

They purchased the space while they were in Houston and came back to Salt Lake to a full realization of just how much work was in store for them. “My parents thought we were insane, and we spent about a year and a half restoring it.” It is a beautifully restored building, top to bottom, and has a 1909 storefront.

Rowland and Jensen received the Heritage Award and the Merit Award from Salt Lake City for Historic Landmarks. “We feel very good about what we’ve done here, and people do love it in the neighborhood. Plus, it is a great old building.” Indeed, the large windows packed with art are inviting, and driving up E Street, one can’t help but stop and wander in to see what treasures are waiting inside.

While Gateway seems to have taken a fair amount of clients away from downtown and the Avenues, Jensen would like to see more local businesses in the Avenues. Having generic merchandise or a “big chain” feel is the antithesis of Jensen’s gallery. There are others including Q Street Gallery and Magpies Nest that have been successful as well in the avenues, so it seems that not all is lost to big business and mass-produced merchandise.

Jensen adds, “People who are looking for something unique still will seek out these various galleries.” She adds “If you’re the R.C. Willey shopper, this is probably not the place for you.”

E Street is a member of the Salt Lake Gallery Association, and on Gallery Stroll night they are always lively and bustling. “Every month we try to have a different focus. Last month we had five local medical doctors show their work here. This month we’ll show oil painter Lynn Farrar.” Peggy Anderson, a world-class watercolorist was shown the previous month.

Some of the most unusual items at the gallery are the wooden industrial forms that Jensen and Rowland have collected and made into tables and wall hangings. Beautiful shapes, beautifully made, they are transformed into a collector’s dream. This gives the two quality time together as they create these pieces. “I love the way they look. In Denver we found a huge container of these forms and we bought all of them.” These industrial forms are repaired, cleaned and painted in respect to the original colors. Glass is added as a tabletop, and a gorgeous, one-of-a-kind piece of furniture is born.

E Street Gallery has a wide variety of local artists. There is whimsical soft sculpture by Marian Nelson, Greg Goodman’s ceramics, porcelain vases by Dr. Homer Rich, and a variety of glass pieces by Jean Ujifusa. You’ll see hand painted Italian pieces by Giuliana Marple and intricate jewelry by Rebecca Blank and Anton Von Haag. You’ll also find some pieces from around the world, such as ornate Iranian rugs, charming Russian nesting dolls, and hand-painted boxes.

The clientele that visits the gallery is as diverse as the pieces themselves. The Gallery sees the well educated and well traveled, as well as the local shopper or collector looking for a unique hand-made item. This is one gallery you won’t walk out of empty-handed, as there is something in virtually every price range, and for every taste. E Street gallery…eclectic indeed.

Hours at the E Street Gallery are Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm. In December they are open Monday through Saturday 10:00 am until 7:00 pm.

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