An art store that’s also part gallery, part gift shop
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” – Pablo PicassoGLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Bucky Moser was in the Artist’s Mercantile & Gallery last Wednesday looking for airbrush paint. “It’s the only art store around here I can find that has the paint I want and the advice I need,” he said with a grin. Moser, senior vice president at Alpine Bank in New Castle, said he never considered himself an artist. But that was before he started creating custom bass fishing lures with the help of Artist’s Mercantile owner Steve Legersky. “They’re the nicest lures I’ve ever seen,” said Legersky of Moser’s artist-quality pieces. “He’s gotten really good at them. And he uses them to catch fish, too. They do work.” Moser is the quintessential customer at Legersky’s art store and gallery, standing on Cooper Avenue in downtown Glenwood Springs. The store caters to artists of all types and all abilities – with an emphasis on those who are just starting off. Legersky feels it’s his role to provide helpful direction and confidence in first-time artists’ creative abilities. “Our philosophy is to try to approach all artists on equal footing,” said Legersky. “We want to show the beginning artist the same respect as the established artist. Everyone deserves a first shot.”That goes for the gallery portion of the store, too. Legersky represents established local artists such as Alice Gustafson, who was featured in the store’s April show, and Jennifer DeBose, who teaches watercolor and is the focus of her own show this month (see box). Right along with these experienced artists, Legersky makes a point of championing the burgeoning artist who may be showing work for the very first time in a public venue.
Legersky, who owns the store with his wife, fire inspector Jan Legersky, describes Artist’s Mercantile in percentages.”Eighty percent is an art store,” said this oil and pastel landscape painter, who’s also a bass player and was a coal miner in his native Pennsylvania before moving to the area 30 years ago. “Ten percent is a gallery, and 10 percent is a gift store.” The range of “mercantile,” if you will, is vast. Legersky will order any art supply within reason that a customer requests, including paints, canvasses, painting materials and handmade papers. The art store also offers framing and framing supplies. And although the art supplies come from elsewhere, the gallery and gift items all originate from local artists and artisans. One corner of the store features a monthly artist. Nearly 30 other artists are featured on every available interior space.”Typically, you’re supposed to view art at eye level,” said Legersky, his eyes looking high at artwork hanging on every available wall space of the building’s interior. “But we have 14-foot high ceilings here that’s wasted space unless we hang art on it.”Rounding out the merchandise is an array of handmade jewelry – necklaces, earrings, pendants, silverwork – ceramics, clothing made from vintage fabric, magnets, cards, photographs, beaded sun catchers, glass figures, and even locally-made prayer flags. A children’s section contains books, activity sets, and other youth-oriented items.
Since the building that houses Artist’s Mercantile is more than 100 years old, it wasn’t always an art store and gallery. “Upstairs it was a cat house,” said Legersky of the downtown structure’s beginnings. “And downstairs it was a saloon.”Legersky has heard the vintage building was once a creamery, and he remembers when he first came to town several decades ago that the building housed a sunroof installation shop. Part of the storefront is made up of a rolling garage door as a remnant of those days. The Legerskys are what Steve calls “third generation” art store and gallery owners in the approximate 1,200-square-foot space. Locals Maria Sippola and Andrea Bersson both had art-related businesses in the building before the Legerskys took over the space five years ago. He’s happy to continue that tradition. “Our goal is to seek out all artists and those who appreciate art in the area,” Legersky said.
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