Aspen won out over Palm Desert, Calif., as the city Sabbia Talenti, of Vail, recently chose to open a satellite art gallery.
The store, which opened last week in the Mill Street Plaza retail and restaurant complex off East Hopkins Avenue, specializes in imported Italian ceramics that can be used as decorative pieces or dinnerware. The offerings aren’t cheap: A large Renaissance-style decorative plate hanging on the gallery’s wall by the artist Patrizio Chiuccchiu carries a retail listing price of $17,938.
Despite that high-end showpiece, many of the items on display in the roughly 600-square-foot shop run in the $1,000 to $2,000 range. The gallery has connections that enable it to import customized and commissioned pieces from Italy for far less money than it would cost to travel there and bring an item back.
Billy Winick, who is running the company’s Aspen store, said geography played the biggest role in the decision to pick Aspen over Southern California.
“When we opened the Vail store in 2008, we intended to open in Aspen,” Winick said. “But we opened just as the economy was tanking, so we kept our eyes on Aspen.
“As the economy recovered, we looked between Palm Desert and Aspen. ... Once I walked into this spac,e I saw that the domed ceiling was perfect for the feel of our ceramics, and it was kind of a no-brainer. The space just seemed to come out of nowhere and fell into my lap, and within a week we got it.”
Winick said he and his mother, who co-owns the gallery, with one other partner, are still eyeing Palm Desert for another gallery but they are committed to Aspen with a five-year lease and renewal option at Mill Street Plaza. Commercial real estate broker Karen Setterfield, of Setterfield & Bright, helped them to secure the plaza spot, which sits above Cache Cache restaurant.
Aspen also made sense because of the close proximity to the larger shop on Vail’s Meadow Drive. It’s easy to swap items and equipment back and forth between the two locations.
“We have a broader spectrum of offerings in Vail, with lava-rock tables and dinnerware on display and tabletop items. Everything there can be ordered in Aspen. We call (Aspen) the Sabbia Talenti Gallery, and Vail is the Sabbia Talenti Showroom, and there’s a difference in feel between the two.”
Sabbia Talenti is one of a handful of art galleries that have either relocated within Aspen or will start doing business in the city this winter.
• White Elk’s Glass, owned and operated by glass artist Marty Holmes (who has a studio in Glen Haven near Estes Park), will open in early December in the Aspen Grove Building at 525 E. Cooper Ave. Holmes recently decided to open a store in Aspen because floodwaters on his rural Glen Haven property have made it difficult for customers to access his studio, he said.
• Source Photographica will take up the spot currently held by The Sports Center, which sells athletic footwear and accessories in the Mountain Plaza Building at 434 E. Cooper Ave. (The Sports Center will soon relocate to a larger space in the downtown pedestrian mall at 308 S. Mill St.) Source Photographica, whose owner Philip Kulpa sells high-end photo pieces, will have a presence at the Mountain Plaza Building at least through the winter season, Setterfield said. The gallery’s theme will be the 60th anniversary of the first successful summit expedition of Mount Everest.
• Omnibus Gallery, which for many years has sold vintage posters in the Cooper Avenue pedestrian mall, has moved into a space twice as big at 410 E. Hyman Ave. Owner George Sells said he was able to get a more favorable lease agreement than he had with his former space.
• Columbine of Aspen, which sells jewelry, fossils and various artsy items at 516 E. Durant Ave., will open a second shop in Aspen at 408 E. Hyman Ave., the former site of The Buffalo Collection.
• As was reported previously in the Times, Royal Aspen Gallery has left its 410 E. Hyman Ave. space, where Omnibus is settling in. Co-owner Peter Calamari folded that operation into his other gallery, Royal Street Fine Art, at 205 S. Mill St.
Holmes said the flooding in mid-September completely destroyed the town of Glen Haven and cut off vehicle access to his home and studio. It was then that he began to search for another place to sell his blown-glass items, which include chandeliers, wall art, sinks and wash basins, urns, glasses and wedding goblets.
Aspen turned out to be an easy choice because Holmes had success with a booth at the Aspen Saturday Market during the summer. He described his style as a “classical off-hand technique,” which uses sand and relies on different metals to add colors to the glass.
Access to his studio is still difficult because of the flood. A wide river now covers the roads to his property. His house and studio weren’t damaged because they sit on high ground.
“You have to hike in and hike out, a mile and a half each way,” Holmes said. “I will have to backpack the items back and forth from the studio (to my vehicle) to get them to Aspen. Some better roads should be opening in the next month. Our little river, only 8 feet across, became this 150-foot-wide massive river. I was lucky because a lot of people lost everything, their homes, their businesses. My house is on top of the mountain.”
Setterfield represented both the landlord and tenant in the Sabbia Talenti, White Elk’s Glass and Omnibus deals. She was the listing broker for Source Photographica’s short-term sublease with The Sports Center. Commercial broker Rob Snyder represented both sides of the Columbine transaction.