A VISIT WITH ELIZABETH ROBBINS & SHANNA KUNZ AT THEIR GALLERY IN OGDEN, UT
Text by Bonnie Gangelhoff · Photos by Scott Hancock
This story was featured in the January 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art January 2015 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
Describe your studio/gallery. Elizabeth Robbins: It is a beautiful, inspirational place that I absolutely love to be in. There are north-light windows, tall ceilings, neutral gray-green walls, hardwood floors, and lots of wall space to hang paintings.
What prompted you to open the gallery? ER: Both Shanna and I were working out of our homes. She was in her basement, and I was in a tiny room. While walking our dogs one day, I mentioned to Shanna how great it would be if we could find a studio space where we could work together. She said, “Let’s pretend.” So, we said all the things we wanted our space to be. We imagined a place where we could create our artwork in a beautiful space. Then we asked the universe to make it happen for us. Just by chance we found a space that was so incredible that the idea of a gallery took hold.
Why did you choose the name Bella Muse? ER: We wanted a name that conveyed how we felt about why we create art. And we wanted a name that inspired people and said, “Art is beautiful.” Thus, Bella Muse, meaning beautiful inspiration.
Where is the gallery located? Shanna Kunz: We are situated between the beautiful Wasatch Front and the Great Salt Lake on a very historic street—25th Street was once considered one of the more “colorful” streets in Utah. Ogden had visitors like Al Capone as well as other famous gangsters back in the ’30s and ’40s. It was a railroad town back then, and the gambling parlors and saloons were all located on 25th Street. Today it is filled with restaurants, boutiques, and galleries all in historic buildings. The streets are lined with potted flowers, benches, sculpture, and there’s even music for the public.
Is it distracting to have people stopping into the gallery while you work? SK: We take turns talking to people. But I am usually more chatty than Liz because this is the town I grew up in. I know most everyone who comes into the gallery, and I can’t help myself. But if I have a deadline, Liz will take over, and vice versa.
Do you listen to music while you work? SK: We take turns with the music. Liz listens to softer, more melodic music, and I listen to a little “spicier” music. If she is working on something in particular, we listen to her Pandora stations. If I am working on something in particular, we listen to my stations. We also have one station with a mix of both but without the hard stuff, such as Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kings of Leon. I listen to those things when I’m by myself. I like to move when I’m painting, so a little Motown gets me going.
What other artists do you represent in the gallery? SK: Cindy Baron, Lori McNee, Jennifer Johnson, Dean Bradshaw, and Joe Deru on a regular basis, but we will host guest-artist exhibits and feature many of our contemporaries. We would also like to feature some up-and-coming female artists.
What artists have influenced you? ER: Henri Fantin-Latour, Abbott Handerson Thayer, Daniel Gerhartz, Robert Johnson, John Singer Sargent, Anders Zorn, and Joaquin Sorolla. SK: At the moment, John Henry Twachtman and Willard Metcalf are my favorites. My more contemporary influences are Wolf Kahn, Mark Rothko, and Dan Pinkham.
What impresses you about other artists’ works? ER: Bold brush strokes, lost edges, and color harmony. I’m drawn to painterly paintings. SK: I love art history and studying the work of turn-of-the-century American artists such as Twachtman, Dwight William Tryon, and George Inness. Studying work that stands the test of time inspires me to look for a timeless approach with my own voice. I love work that has subtleties and tonalities.
What is the one place people will never find you? ER: At a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert. SK: At the mall. I hate shopping. Another place I am never to be found is in the gym, unfortunately. I’d rather get my exercise dancing at the easel.
Legacy Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ, and Bozeman, MT; Wilcox Gallery, Jackson, WY; Highlands Art Gallery, Lambertsville, NJ; Montgomery Lee Fine Art, Park City, UT; Authentique Gallery, St. George, UT; Wildhorse Gallery, Steamboat Springs, CO.
Legacy Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ; A. Banks Gallery, Bozeman, MT; Dick Idol Signature Gallery, Whitefish, MT; Kneeland Gallery, Ketchum, ID; Lovetts Gallery, Tulsa, OK; Mountain Trails Gallery, Jackson, WY, and Park City, UT; Mountain Trails Galleries, Sedona, AZ; Davis & Blevins Gallery, St. Jo, TX; Authentique Gallery, St. George, UT.
Featured in the January 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art January 2015 print issue or digital download Or subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!
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