Mark Anthony King wasn't really looking for an opportunity to open an art gallery in Denver, but when he saw the perfect space at 13th Avenue and Bannock Street, he decided to make the leap. That was around Thanksgiving.
In a few short months, he sold Stoneheart Gallery in Evergreen to Julianne Miller, who took over Jan. 15. King leased the Denver space and is getting it ready for the opening April 6.
King, 45, had been a presence in Evergreen’s Main Street gallery scene for six years as owner and director of Stoneheart Gallery.
"I had no interest in moving at the time," King said.
An Evergreen resident since 2005 with his wife, Haydee Maria, King has no immediate plans to live closer to Denver.
One of his frequent customers, Catherine Ferguson of Highlands Ranch, told him he should look at the building recently vacated after 30 years by the landmark Camera Obscura art photography gallery near the Denver Art Museum.
"I was interested because of my background in photography and the knowledge that director Hal Gould had exhibited celebrities such as Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Paul Strand and Edward Weston. When I heard the space was available, it seemed like a good place to get my foot in the door," King said.
What he found was 1,000 square feet equally divided on two levels.
"It was half great and half needed a total rehab," King said.
The downstairs was fine, but the upstairs hadn't been touched in 30 years. He ripped out three layers of flooring (plywood, carpeting and vinyl) in that order to get to the original hardwood.
"I saw the possibilities. It was definitely a place for a new challenge and a bigger market."
The summer before he found the building, artist Julianne Miller approached him out of the blue about buying Stoneheart. It all just seemed to come together.
"The timing was right. The universe was guiding me in that direction," King said. "I'm thrilled that Stoneheart is still going to be here."
The new building in Denver also houses the Native American Trading Post and art photographer Andy Marquez.
After a period of remodeling, which King is doing mostly himself, the grand opening will be from 6 to 9 p.m. April 6.
King plans to feature some of the same artists he has hosted in Evergreen (Jennifer Yoswa, Lorri Acott, Adam Schultz and Cynthia Reid) at the Denver gallery, in addition to some more contemporary, edgier and experimental art.
"Part of the fun of being an art director is discovering new artists," said King, who is also a painter and photographer.
When he started Stoneheart Gallery, King was really looking for a smaller space to sell his art photography, but the small space he wanted was taken. So he took the larger space and had to find more artists to fill it.
He had a couple of good years under his belt before the down economy kicked in.
"It was difficult" to survive the last few years, he says. "There were months when I just scraped by." But King still believes in the future of Evergreen as a mountain arts town of stature.
"When I first moved here, I saw Evergreen as a mini-Santa Fe. I thought I could help turn it in that direction. I think if it wasn't for the economic crisis, it would have had more steam. The economy set back the whole industry," he said. "It has the right energy, the right vibe. The light here is amazing. … If you look around town, it's full of art.
"People you meet in this business are truly wonderful. They are all so positive. They believe in the arts, and they love to the support the arts."
Contact Vicky Gits at email@example.com or 303-350-1042.
The Muse Fine Art Gallery
1309 Bannock St., Denver
website: themusefineartgallery.com (under construction)