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Wagar bringing art shows into his real estate office

Allyn Harvey
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Rich Wagar may have found a way to combine real estate and retail, alleviating worries that the two cannot coexist peacefully together in downtown Aspen.

Wagar, a 33-year veteran of the Aspen real estate scene, is using the extra wall and counter space in his office to display the work of local artists.

He kicked the show off Friday with live entertainment, wine and beer and hors d’oeuvres. About 20 people showed up at Wagar’s invitation, and he’s hoping it will become a tradition that grows in size.

“I just planned this like a week ago,” Wagar said. “This is the test mission. Maybe we’ll have another show over Presidents Day weekend.”

Wagar says local art mavens can come into the Hyman Avenue offices of Rich Wagar Associates, check out the paintings, sculptures and prints without having to talk to him or any other agents in the office. Of course, none of them would mind if the art ends up generating a few sales of the firm’s real estate listings.

The artists represented at the show include sculptor David Jungquist and painters Joyce Verbulun Hardy, Coralie A. Johansen and Dasa Bausova.

Bausova is showing three mixed-media pieces focusing on monkeys with titles such as “Monkey Think” and “Monkey Do.” All three pieces were on the wall over a broker’s desk with an asking price of about $700.

“I use monkeys because it removes us from the situation and makes things look all the more ridiculous,” Bausova said.

Bausova, a native of formerly communist Czech Republic, said religion and flowers each have predominant roles in her art as well.

“I came from a communist country, so I always thought, and wondered, about religion,” she said.

She said she’s participating in the first-ever Rich Wagar Associates art show at the invitation of Wagar himself, whom she met at a Sojourner Magazine party. She currently has work on display at the Metaphor Gallery at Aspen Highlands Village, and is planning shows locally at the Shadow Gallery in March and Woody Creek Store Gallery in early summer.

The Wagar opening Friday night was a direct result of last summer’s debate over the vitality of the downtown retail core.

After the large, corner location that for years was occupied by outdoor clothier Eddie Bauer was rented last spring to a company selling fractional ownerships in condominiums, a number of merchants banded together.

They formed the Aspen Retail Merchants Association to address what many believe is a serious problem. The merchants began lobbying the Aspen City Council to adopt an ordinance that would bar real estate offices from prime retail locations, especially on the ground floor, in the commercial core.

The council has not taken up their cause, although there is legislation working through the review process that would address some of the issues raised by the merchants association.

Wagar, who doesn’t mind poking fun every now and then at the seriousness of Aspenites, said the show is his proactive way of addressing the problem.

“That’s where I got the idea,” Wagar said. “I asked myself how can we get more vitality in real estate offices?”

[Allyn Harvey’s e-mail address is aharvey@aspentimes.com]


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