"Happy first birthday, KEEP Contemporary!" is a thing I could've said to gallery owner Jared Antonio-Justo Trujillo, but instead I asked to speak with "Fuck-Face." Thank god he got that it was a joke. Which is actually kind of the essence of his fledgling gallery—a distinct lack of artifice and snobbery. In his one year just off the Plaza (112 W San Francisco St., 307-9824) Trujillo has created a contemporary sanctuary for artists he believes in, from street creators like Wonky to SFR fave Nico Salazar. It's contemporary, y'know? And with a one-year anniversary event at 5 pm this Friday Dec. 15—with free food from La Fogata—we knew it was worth a chat.
How do you go about selecting artists for KEEP?
Y'know, I've been doing this a long time. I used to work on Canyon Road; I curated for Eggman and Walrus, so a lot of the people I'm working with, I've been working with for quite some time. I've built a rapport with these people. A lot of this business is still word of mouth. Or I'll go on Instagram or to shows. I used to go to BFA shows at the Santa Fe University of Art & Design. Can't do that anymore.
And do you think we're getting to a place where tourists and collectors are embracing contemporary arts more?
I think the whole art world in general has changed. It's not like it used to be, where people would come to Santa Fe to buy a Fritz Scholder. Those collectors are older now, maybe even dead, and the younger generation is coming up. Santa Fe is the third-biggest art market in America, and I wondered, where is this [contemporary] voice? All the cities have it, and the galleries here who have been doing it for a long time have been doing it for a long time. I still thought it was important to find my niche, to work with artists I believe in and who I think are exciting and fresh. Santa Fe can still be a conservative market, but I do believe there's going to be an influx of more contemporary work. I think people might be over the whole Southwest thing, and that's still important, but my generation—Generation X … we started from punk and from graffiti and from skateboarding, and that's what's going to be hip in the market now.
Do you have concerns about collectors in a more borrow/share economy? As in, people who Uber instad of buying cars, who stay in an Airbnb instead of buying houses—are they still buying art?
That's interesting, and I really don't know because it's hard to pinpoint exactly what demographic is buying art right now. A lot of times galleries think they're better than the artist, and it's hard to find a place where they feel comfortable and believed in. I get it from a business perspective, how the market in Santa Fe can feel oversaturated, but I'm local, I'm independent, I'm underground. I enjoy that aspect.