Local artists plan opening of downtown gallery

Mike Easterling

FARMINGTON — Local painter Rod Hubble is no stranger to owning his own art gallery, having mounted three such operations in the past in Santa Fe and Taos.

Steve Barr, left, and Rod Hubble will open Hubble & Barr Galleries next weekend in downtown Farmington.

But when his latest venture, Hubble & Barr Galleries, opens next week downtown, he’ll be doing it in what he acknowledges is a very difficult sales environment. The Great Recession of 2008 has hindered art sales around the world, and a particularly poor economy in San Juan County means not a lot of local residents have the money to purchase art.

All the same, Hubble is looking forward to the opening of his gallery with partner Steve Barr, a local woodworking artist. The rewards he receives from engaging in such an operation are more than monetary, he said.

“I have a big inventory of paintings, and they keep stacking up,” Hubble said, explaining part of his rationale for opening a new gallery. “And I want to paint more. I’m at a point in my career where I will paint my most important work. So I do need to find homes for the many, many paintings I have stacked up at home.”

Hubble also relishes the relationship he builds with the people who are attracted to his work.

“It’s also about those years when I was an art dealer,” he said. “It’s about the people (who come into the gallery) and their stories and that love they give me for my work. It really makes a difference to me.”

Hubble & Barr Galleries will operate out of the old Ross Sporting Goods store downtown, and Hubble promised an enjoyable experience for those who stop in. He said Barr’s wood work alone will provide the gallery with an inviting atmosphere, given the pleasing aroma that emanates from pieces made from cedar, pine and other fragrant woods.

And Hubble, a former adjunct professor at San Juan College who taught painting and drawing classes, promised there will be no high-pressure sales techniques.

“I’ve learned that everybody has a story they want to tell, and it’s best for me to keep my mouth shut and listen to their stories,” he said. “Selling is not telling. You can’t tell people what they want to buy. I try to stay out of their way and help them if they need it.”

Hubble’s idea to open the gallery with Barr was not part of a long-considered plan. He said the two met during the “Art 350” exhibition and sale at the Farmington Civic Center in November, and they simply hit it off.

Steve Barr, left, and Rod Hubble met last fall at the "Art 350" show and sale, and quickly decided to open a gallery together.

“I was doing a demonstration, painting some aspen trees from a photograph,” Hubble said. “He asked if he could take some lessons from me. Later, before Christmas, his wife bought a painting of mine as a present for him.”

A few weeks later, while the two were having dinner together one night, Hubble happened to mention he was considering opening a gallery downtown and that it sure would be nice to have a partner. Barr immediately jumped on the idea, and now their joint venture is about to become a reality.

Hubble thinks he and Barr are well suited to run a gallery together.

“Just the other day, Steve said, ‘It’s a good thing we’re both so finicky,’” Hubble said, explaining that both artists are detail-oriented people who try to achieve perfection in whatever they do.

The work of both artists will be featured at the gallery, along with the ceramics of San Juan College pottery instructor Don Ellis. Hubble said the work of other artists may be included later.

The gallery will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, and the partners are planning a grand opening celebration next weekend. Hubble said that event will spotlight his partner’s culinary skills, as well as his woodworking abilities.

“Steve is a master chef,” Hubble said. “So he’s preparing all the food for our grand opening. He said he’s going to have 10 kinds of hors d’oeuvres.”

The new space will be as much a studio as a gallery for Hubble, who said he plans on painting there every day. He said he enjoys interacting with people while he works.

“Meeting the people who love your work and love art is the thing that made me want to be a better painter,” he said.

Barr and Hubble hope their gallery helps downtown establish more of a reputation as an arts corridor, given the presence of such other galleries as the Three Rivers Art Center, the Artifacts Gallery, the Dusty Attic and Studio 116. Hubble said his new gallery will be a regular participant in the art walks that take place on Friday evenings several times a year.

“We really hope, of course, that Farmington embraces us and supports us, but the art industry has struggled since the recession everywhere,” he said. “We only hope the economy improves and Farmington people will love coming down to see the gallery. If we only break even, it will be worthwhile.”

Mike Easterling is the A&E editor of The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4610.

If you go

What: Grand opening of Hubble & Barr Galleries

When: 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9

Where: 206 W. Main St. in downtown Farmington

For more information: Call 505-215-9013 or 775-962-3921