After nearly 18 years in his small gallery space near the top of
Canyon Road, gallerist and curator Bobby Beals is ready to pursue other opportunities.
"I've been doing it a really long time, and I've enjoyed every minute of it," Beals tells SFR, "so I figured I'd go out on a high note."
Thus, in March, curator Frank Rose, formerly of form & concept, takes over the space with his Hecho a Mano imprint. Beals, who also curates visual arts exhibitions at the Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado and offers consultant services to galleries, will move on. He chalks up the decision to looming though as yet undisclosed opportunities he would have had to turn down, were he running his gallery the usual 12-plus hours a day.
"I'm feeling a little like I'm missing these chances to do other things," Beals says.
Such chances include a reinvigorated focus on his Kamagraph brand, a skateboard-meets-arts outfit that finds guest artists crafting fine art works on skateboard decks. Once Beals recoups his costs from sales, the rest of the proceeds go to charities, such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Future Men Project or Fathers New Mexico.
"I want my heart to be fulfilled, and the gallery just hasn't served that purpose lately," Beals explains. "I want to be making a difference and, on a personal level, like all people, I want to be happy, so I'm dissolving all those things that get in the way of my growth."
But he won't disappear completely, he says, even if his next steps are fairly nebulous for now.
"I'm getting really excited about taking the art into public spaces and meeting people that way," Beals notes. "It's a combination of being done and Canyon Road changing; [local] restaurants have done a great job of being culinary destinations, but with the arts, with Canyon Road,
people are kind of like, 'This is the way we've been doing it, why change?'"
Beals speaks to how Canyon Road's other gallerists and even the city itself markets Santa Fe's artsiest street. Indeed, as the nation trends more toward stagnant wages and the experiential arts rather than ownership, those many-thousand dollar paintings make less sense. A street that serves as a monument to the often unaffordable and inaccessible—y'know, not counting wealthy, aging collectors—starts to raise questions for both arts businesses and consumers.
"We don't market Canyon Road separately from the city, but we fund the Arts Commission, which provides a lot of grant support to both the visual and performing arts with the 1 percent lodger's tax," says Tourism Santa Fe head Randy Randall. "We've also just embarked on a new kind of trial for a quarter of a million dollar campaign—that hasn't been kicked off yet—with Loka Creative, a local firm, dedicated to the visual arts and museums."
Randall says the promotion is meant to court the high-end art buyer with
targeted advertisements in select print publications and on social media, perhaps even including Instagram influencers, online personalities with large followings who can use the platform for guerrilla marketing posts. On the local end of the spectrum, Randall points to the first-ever upcoming Santa Fe Art Week from July 12 through July 21, which is bookended by both the International Folk Art Market and Art Santa Fe.
"Our mission is to fill in the Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday nights to ensure we have a lot of things going on in the visual arts and people can spend a whole week instead of just the weekend," Randall says. "Also, it's not totally put
together yet, but one of the things we want to do is to revive the old Canyon Road Crawl, where people could take a glass of wine and stroll from gallery to gallery—we intend to block off part of Canyon Road and permit the whole area to have wine stations or stations where you can also get soft drinks or water. When we do these promotions, the primary target is to bring people in [to Santa Fe], but there's a real need to let local people know these things are going on."
As for the climate on Canyon Road these days, Beals says he hopes changes are coming. Though he'll no longer have a dedicated space there, he still hopes the street and its businesses can thrive.
"If we don't do something—I say 'we,' but I just mean collectively—to get younger voices in there, it's going to be in dire straits," he says. "Canyon Road is such a charming road, such an art destination, but galleries are strapped and it's hard for gallery owners to put money into marketing the road in general; galleries are marketing themselves independently, but collectively, not so much. I want small businesses to succeed here, but, and I'm not calling anyone out, I've spoken to the veterans in the biz, and they're struggling."
Downtown just ain't what it used to be. But, of course, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Healthy competition is always en vogue, and the exploding scene in
midtown and toward the Southside brings arts to underserved areas of town.
"[Canyon Road] brought me to a level where it's helped me sell art, so I'll appreciate it always for that," Beals adds. "But, for me personally, I'm over it as far as trying to run a business there."
Beals goes out with one last show,
Transition, this Friday.
Transition Group Show:
5-8 pm Friday Feb. 22. Free.
Beals & Co. Showroom,
830 Canyon Road,