Denver Business Journal Aug 2002


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Denver Business Journal
by  Patrick Sweeney,  August 2002

There's an artistic movement afoot in Denver that has more to do with buying fine art than creating it.

Though considered by many retail analysts a luxury, non-essential item, fine art sales are up at many Denver galleries, despite the flagging economy.

Jim Robischon, owner of the Robischon Gallery and president of the Denver Art Dealers Association, said sales at his lower downtown Denver gallery are strong. Summer months usually mean a dearth of art buyers, he said, but not this season.

A veteran art dealer, Robischon said his clientele are inquiring about and buying what's known as "blue-chip" pieces.

A blue-chip piece of art averages in price between $2,000 and $75,000. The pieces are usually created by well-known artists with an auction-house track record.

Since opening her Walker Fine Art Gallery in July at 300 W. 11th Ave., in Denver's Golden Triangle neighborhood, Bobbi Walker said sales have been strong for the gallery's debut exhibition by the modern artist Jamali. With eight pieces in the exhibit including paintings, photography and sculpture, Walker said all but one has sold.

While the Robischon and Walker Fine Art galleries have a clientele of mature, educated professionals, the Abend Gallery caters to the burgeoning art collector. With prices ranging from $200 to $3,000, the Abend Gallery is considered to be one of Denver's mid-priced galleries.

Owner Christine Serr said while the (Abend) gallery did see a sales increase following Sept. 11, she said art sales have leveled off at the gallery, which specializes in showcasing Colorado artists.

In her 12 years as an art dealer, Serr said there was never any event like Sept. 11 that prompted strong art sales.

For Denver's art galleries, as long as stocks continue to under-perform, the days of conspicuous consumption are numbered. Robischon said his well-heeled clientele, who can spend as much as $25,000 in one visit, already have the fancy cars and spacious homes. Now they want to decorate their homes with tasteful pieces of art.

"They've pretty much done all that. They've traveled a little bit," he said. "They've come to realize that their home is really important."


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