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A new showcase for artists

Mendenhall Valley gallery offers a new venue for amateurs trying to show their art

Posted: Tuesday, August 07, 2001

A new gallery in the Mendenhall Valley hopes to help local amateur artists gain experience and exposure.

Artist Ted Vadman and custom framer Glen Hamilton opened the Glacier Gallery & Southeast Artworks, a combination co-op art gallery and framing shop, this summer in the Mendenhall Mall.

Most of the work in the gallery is from local artists who vary in experience and fame, Hamilton said. Works of notables on exhibit include Alaska artists Herb Bonnet, Ed Mills and Rudy Ripley, who are well known in many artistic circles, Hamilton said.

But the owners said they want to cater primarily to the amateur artist: The person who has talent but uses it as a hobby rather than for a living. Vadman said helping the local artists, as well as themselves, is the reason they started the gallery.

"It came about last summer when I was having a hard time getting my work into the spring art show here at the mall," Vadman said. "So we thought, 'To heck with this. Let's just open our own.' And if nothing else I'll always have a place to show my work. At least I hope so."

Vadman said he was frustrated by a lack of venues for artists to show their work, and wanted to give amateurs their 15 minutes of fame.

"It is important for the amateurs themselves to get the feeling from within the community how people are receiving their work and how it is accepted in the market," Vadman said. "It also might help them determine whether to continue in the amateur market as a hobby or move on to make it a career."

But it's difficult for a gallery to make it on its own, Hamilton said.

Mendenhall Mall owner Rein Fluk agreed, but said Glacier Gallery stands a better chance because Vadman and Hamilton added a custom frame shop.

"I always wanted a gallery in here because they generate a lot of foot traffic, but an art gallery by itself can't support itself," Fluk said. "But there's big traffic with retail framing."

Fluk said he thinks galleries don't do well in Juneau because people don't want to pay a lot for art without a big name on it. But framing is the practical feature of the shop that will bring people in for the art.

The shop is run as a co-operative, Hamilton said. Artists pay to display their work and can purchase wall space, case space, and corner space. Fees depend on the amount of space used by the artist, Hamilton said. When a piece sells, the artist gets 80 percent of the price, which isn't typical in the art world, Hamilton said.

"Generally, artists get 40 percent and the gallery gets 60," he said. "Not only does this give artists an incentive to show their work here, but it also gives us a way to get good volunteers in our shop."

Hamilton said the co-op's artists agree to volunteer eight to 10 hours a month in the store. This helps the co-op maintain a 27-person membership, which Vadman said is one of the keys to making the gallery a success.

Melanie Plenda can be reached at mplenda@juneauempire.com.



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