Rifle gallery opens

Ryan Graff
Post Independent Staff

Rifle is a-changing, there’s no question about that.

Rifle has long been the place to go for Mud For Marge, the Garfield County Fair and four-wheel-drive trucks more than anything else. Slowly, though, that is changing.

It all may have started with Wal-Mart, then the Midland Building’s renovation, then Sonic, and then a drive-through espresso bar. Until finally, the ultimate sign that Rifle was moving uptown became undeniable: a Starbucks planned for a new retail center in south Rifle.

Well, Rifle is taking one more step (whether it’s forward, back, or side-to-side depends on whom you ask) into its new identity.

The Midland Gallery opened last week on the second floor of the Midland Building with a reception for three Western Slope artists: Maggie Cook, Frank Gnatek, and David Cook.

It’s certainly a new event for Rifle.

“I haven’t known of any visual arts shows in Rifle,” said Jennifer Firmin, a photographer and curator of the show.

And though the opening was a new event and a change for Rifle, it was modest. The “gallery” is really a few hallways with paintings hung on the space between office doors.

But the small significance was clear.

“We didn’t want to be an Aspen- or Carbondale-type gallery, but we should have access to reasonably priced quality art,” Parachute painter Cook said.

“It’s possible the city of Rifle might be ready for this,” he said.

Though engineer Israel Shapira renovated and owns the Midland, the idea and development of the gallery, was Firmin’s. She has a photography studio in the building.

“Really, Jennifer (Firmin) is everything,” Shapira said.

Firmin thought of the idea and then convinced the Cooks and Gnatek to show their work.

And though the gallery is a change for Rifle, it may also be that it’s about time.

“There’s so many artistic people here,” Shapira said. “I mean, every other person here has something to do with art.”

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