Portfolio Gallery in Breckenridge seeks to make art accessible, create opportunities for local artists
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Carol Kelly’s name as well as the type of works the gallery carries.
BRECKENRIDGE — Four years ago, Carol and Alan Kelly came to visit Breckenridge on vacation. Like many, they fell in love with the place — so quickly that they bought a lot for a house before they headed home. The two soon decided they wanted to be part of the community rather than just have a second home in the area, which is how the idea for Portfolio Gallery began.
The Kellys bought the historic Argyle Dance Hall and took six months to refurbish the interior and prepare the space to be a gallery before its grand opening Aug. 1.
The Kellys named the space Portfolio Gallery because artists are able to build their portfolios within the gallery and clients can add to their portfolios of artwork at home.
While many of the gallery’s clients are visitors — Carol said 80% of all art is purchased while people are on vacation — the affordability and Colorado mountain theme of the art appeals to locals as well, she said.
The gallery owners host local events such as the First Ladies group, a networking group for female business owners, and art events that invite the community to interact with the gallery whether or not they plan to purchase art.
Portfolio Gallery has three rooms. The Originals Gallery is the solo artist gallery and the main room where there are prints and a framing area. It also includes kiosks for each featured artist’s profile and original work. The kiosks, which were built by local craftsman Ben Bridgewater, were created to simplify the art process with several preset square sizes that the artists use.
Each painting of the same size costs the same amount and are clearly labeled with the price, which the Kellys think takes some of the “pretentious factor” out of an art gallery. The pieces are relatively small and the artists are mostly local, creating art that is inspired by Colorado. This makes the pieces more affordable and portable.
“We want our gallery to be approachable. It’s not just for the rich. We want it to be easy and affordable,” Alan said.
Inside the Originals Gallery, there is a viewing wall and frames fit to the sizes of the paintings. This way, customers can pop a frame on a piece and set it up to visualize how it might look in their house.
Carol beamed as she told the story of Sandy Bridgewater, Ben Bridgewater’s wife, who had never shown her art to the public in a gallery before. The gallery’s first sale was one of her pieces, which captured the vibrant colors of Colorado.
The solo artist exhibit gives one artist in the Originals Gallery a chance to show off their work and provide an exhibition with larger pieces of art. Each artist is given five to six weeks in this exhibit and performs special events during this time, such as live painting.
The gallery also has an online presence, but there are no online sales because the Kellys want the experience to be interactive and personal. They explained that while they don’t discount art, their goal isn’t necessarily to make a lot of money. As an older couple, the two have chosen to create the gallery as a hobby, a way to help artists build their portfolios and a way to contribute to the community.
“We’ve chosen to do this because we love it. We want to support local artists,” Alan said.
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