Aspen’s newest gallery given a warm welcome
The name is new but the faces are familiar at the Elliott Yeary Gallery, which opened its doors in Aspen on Dec. 28.
Owners Kelly Wyly Elliott and Kristin Yeary have longstanding ties to Aspen, and last spring finally made the decision to call the mountains home.
The daughter of Sam Wyly and Rosemary Acton, Kelly Wyly Elliott followed in her parents’ footsteps as an artist early in her life. Educated in fine art at the Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore., and Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, Elliott’s love of fine art was also shared by her closest friend, Kristin Yeary.
“Kristin and I met in kindergarten in Dallas, grew up together and attended elementary and middle school together,” explained Elliott. “She went to SMU and received her master’s degree in business. In fact, the art gallery was her senior thesis on how to have a successful business.”
Together, in 1998, the two friends opened their first gallery by the same name in Dallas, based on Yeary’s business plan. The two women represented a handful of contemporary artists including the works of Acton, Bill Carpenter, Spencer Kimball and Elliott’s stepmother, Cheryl Wyly.
The two also began to represent artists that Elliott had befriended or learned of while traveling and studying art in the south of France, such as Pierre Boncompain, Isabelle DuToit and Roger Capron.
“I do all of my ceramics in France and I have come to know a lot of artists there,” explained Elliott. “Kris and I choose art for the gallery that we like and art we want to live with. And many of those pieces, many of those artists, just happen to be French.”
With a strong collection and a growing business in Texas, the only thing that was missing for the two young women was a place they wanted to call home.
“We knew that we did not want to stay in Dallas,” said Elliott. “We wanted to be in a beautiful place with clean air. We both have a lot of friends and family in the area, so coming to Aspen was the natural choice for us. Aspen is also a cultural center with a lot of different people, so it is the perfect place for us to be.”
Elliott and Yeary gathered up their young families and made the move to Aspen last May. They not only brought their entire lives but their entire collection of fine art. Soon they had purchased gallery space on the Hyman Avenue Mall and established a place to bring a different, fresher side of the art world to the Aspen community.
“We love art and want to expose people to a museum quality art, but in a gallery atmosphere,” said Elliott. “We just plan to show wonderful, unusual art that people here have not seen before. We want to expose people to great art and, hopefully, at the same time expand our client list.”
The Elliott Yeary Gallery opened its Aspen doors with an impressive collection of works by Pierre Boncompain, Isabelle DuToit, Cheryl Wyly, Kelly Elliott and Pablo Picasso.
Through the gallery’s relationship with the Hammer Galleries in New York, the Elliott Yeary Gallery was able to attain a collection of ceramics from Pablo Picasso for the Aspen opening.
The gallery is a temporary home to a collection of 19 original Picasso ceramics created from 1946 to 1968 in Vallauris, France. In addition to the ceramics, the owners are also hosting an original Picasso watercolor plan of one of his ceramic bowls (which is also on display), as well as an original hand-colored silkscreen by Picasso.
According to Elliott, the Picasso exhibit of ceramics at the Elliott Yeary Gallery is a rare glimpse into the work of one of the greatest artists of the 20th century.
“A lot of people don’t know about [Picasso’s] ceramics,” said Elliot. “We are fortunate. To have an unusual number of ceramics in one gallery is rare, especially in a small town like Aspen. They are museum quality pieces and his is a name people recognize, which helps get them here and we can then expose them to some different artwork. We just couldn’t pass up this opportunity.”
Sharing company with Picasso at the gallery is Roger Capron, a peer of Picasso’s who worked with the master while in France. According to Elliott, Capron’s distinctive ceramic works are sought after by many collectors.
“Many people really love his work and we pride ourselves on being the first gallery in America to represent him,” said Elliott.
Also with works on display at the gallery are painter Pierre Boncompain, another established French contemporary artist who is known for his rich, colorful still lifes and landscape images; and jewelry designer Cheryl Wyly, who creates one-of-a-kind pieces from unusual precious stones collected from around the world.
Rounding out the gallery offerings is work from Isabelle DuToit, a young emerging painter, also born in France. DuToit, who recently moved to the United States, was trained as a graphic designer, which lends to her sense of color and realism.
“Isabelle is the youngest artist we have in the gallery, next to me, I suppose,” said Elliot, who also shows her own work. An accomplished painter in her own right, Elliot noted the desire to show her original work in a gallery setting as part of the motivation for opening up the first gallery in Texas.
“I really like [showing my own work],” she said. “I get to hear everybody’s criticism without them knowing I am there. But that is part of why I wanted to open the gallery – I didn’t have a place to put all of this great artwork I had accumulated. I get great feedback from people. Sometimes it can be difficult but mostly it’s great. I take constructive criticism very well.”
With a dedication to finding unique and distinctive works from around the world, Elliott and Yeary both find themselves often traveling in the United States and abroad to find the best new, or undiscovered, artists.
“We travel to see the work. We do have artists that we buy from regularly and we love their work so much, that we may travel to see their new work. And we are always looking at new artists as well,” said Elliott.
By all accounts, the Elliott Yeary Gallery has received open arms from the community and from the competitive Aspen art market.
“We had an excellent grand opening,” said Elliott. “We packed the house for three hours. We are really pleased with the reception we have received from the community and the other art dealers in town. They have been very welcoming, and we appreciate that.
“We don’t look at the other galleries as competition,” she added. “All of the galleries complement each other and we feel we are doing something a little different than what others are doing.”
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