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This Little Shop in Historic Old Town Albuquerque Packs in High Quality Fine Art & Gifts

By Elisha Neubauer

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, two local artists decided to take it upon themselves to offer the type of art they knew the locals, and tourists, were looking for.

In 2013, the store was launched by Charlene Kalbfell, a natural stone jeweler, and Val Isenhower, a photographer. It began with only a 1,000 square feet and 9 artists offering the items that depict the feel and culture of the Southwest and has since grown into 1,500 square feet which houses over 29 artists.

"We were aware, being artists ourselves, that local artists are always looking for amenable, appropriate locations in which to sell their artwork," says Kalbfell. "We knew we wanted our shop to be in Historic Old Town because of the exposure to tourists and locals alike as our goal was to provide a gallery that focused on local art with a southwestern flair."

Kalbfell continues, telling us that they wanted to create an environment that was comfortable and conducive to shopping, a place where a customer would feel relaxed and able to picture the items in their own homes.

When it comes to picking artists, they have one strict rule of thumb. "We encourage creativity by our artists," Co-Owner Val Isenhower tells us. "We are open to all forms of artwork, as long as it fits the niche we have created." In addition to being open and flexible with their artist's whims, Isenhower says they work hard to keep the artists in their creative bubbles.

"As owners, we work the store so our artists do not have to take time away from their creations to sell their work," she says. "We work hard to build a community among our artists so they know and support each other with their creative abilities."

This network of creatives has really begun to pay off, as Kalbfell explains that they do in fact celebrate each other's accomplishments. "Often we will have young budding artists come in and spend time looking at our beautiful art as inspiration for their future careers," she affirms. This helps the level of talent in the community rise, which, as Kalbfell explains, has been paying off.

"Our location in Old Town means we have lots of tourists," says Isenhower. "It is not unusual to hear - one of them say, 'I had no idea Albuquerque had such talented artists. Next time I come to New Mexico, I'm going to spend more time in Albuquerque.'" She adds, "By providing a gallery offering high quality gifts and artwork for tourists and locals to appreciate, we feel the entire art community in Albuquerque benefits."

The space is currently home to an impressive 29 different local artists who operate in over 21 different mediums. Each artist has been hand selected by the owners. "We know all our artists personally and have visited many of their studios so we know their inspirations," explains Isenhower. "This allows us to assist our customers to choose the perfect piece."

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About The Author

Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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