Deborah Fritz contemplated the future inside her third Santa Fe gallery, Gallery Fritz, on Guadalupe Street in the Railyard Arts District.
The new gallery features a greater emphasis on “cutting edge” than her Canyon Road properties, GF Contemporary and Giacobbe-Fritz Fine Art.
“It’s more quantitative, more avant-garde, more cutting edge, and that is what we’re highlighting here,” she said.
Gallery Fritz, about 5,000 square feet, is hung with and has art installed in media that departs from what collectors will generally find at the Canyon Road galleries. Inaugural exhibits include textiles by Karen Hampton, sculpture by Paula Castillo and, coming as part of the grand opening Friday, a video installation by Bruce Hamilton and Susanna Carlisle.
“I’m constantly looking for the new, something hot, something new, something different,” Fritz said. “And when I see it, I see it, because I look at a lot of art. I look, I’m not lying, at about 20 portfolios a day. It’s a lot.”
The new gallery joins seven others at the Railyard Arts District, which marks 10 years this year. Gallery Fritz is in a space previously occupied by William Siegal Gallery for nine years and on the same block as the TAI Modern and Evoke Contemporary galleries. Its east-side entrance faces onto the Railyard plaza where Second Street Brewery and Santa Fe Farmers Market are located.
Moving into a Railyard space is a significant move for any gallery owner, said Timothy Harman, president of the Santa Fe Gallery Association. The area has become the place where “blue chip” buyers go for contemporary art.
“We want to make sure there’s great art on the walls,” Harman said Monday. “We’ve got to be careful. It’s about making sure that creative effort isn’t impeded by the commercial nature of things.”
For Fritz, the new location is ideal. She noted the ongoing development in the Railyard and the location just to the south of SITE Santa Fe, with a retooled visual arts biennial scheduled this year. The Violet Crown, a nearby multiscreen movie theater, generates pedestrian traffic, and the coming Vladem Contemporary, the contemporary art annex of the New Mexico Museum of Art, is expected to open a block away in 2020.
“We’re smack dab in the middle of that; it’s so awesome,” she said.
At first, Fritz planned to simply move GF Contemporary to the Railyard, but rather than mess with success, she said, she decided to start something new. Gallery Fritz is going bigger and in media that differs from the art at GF Contemporary, which represents artists such as sculptor Pascal Pierme and painter Michael Azgour.
“I looked around my space over there and it’s such a beautiful space,” she said. “It produces a lot of income for artists — 15 artists — and four employees,” Fritz said. “And so, it was a risk to move over here. You don’t want to disrupt that. It’s not broken, don’t fix it.”
George Brugnone, sales director at Gallery Fritz, said the new space — the interior is essentially a large white box — will open with 17 artists represented. “The first year, it’ll be fluid,” he said.
The idea behind Gallery Fritz is to test boundaries, he added: “Let’s see how far we can push contemporary.”
Harman said Fritz’s move to the Railyard is well timed. The art market in Santa Fe has improved in the past six years and “confidence is high; competition is even higher,” he said.
Stuart Ashman, an association board member, executive director of the Center for Contemporary Arts and a former state secretary of cultural affairs, said contemporary art is particularly popular at the moment.
“There’s a lot of interest in contemporary art. Basically, you’re looking at what artists are thinking, how they are evolving as members of society and often their commentary on society,” he said. “And that piece really helps create some excitement.”