PASATIEMPO : Shaking Things Up - Deborah Fritz's Gallery Empire

By Michael Abatemarco

Deborah Fritz sat down at the small café table at Sky Coffee in the Railyard, an iced poppyseed muffin and pistachio-lemon donut between us. In the background, The Byrds were crooning.

The coffee shop is near Fritz’s latest venture, a gallery space on Guadalupe Street within spitting distance of Charlotte Jackson Fine Art, Blue Rain Gallery, Tai Modern, and SITE Santa Fe. She’s in good company, and the art space, Gallery Fritz, is about to celebrate its first anniversary in March. The owner of three successful galleries in town, Fritz is cautiously optimistic: The Railyard has seen its fair share of contemporary arts spaces open and close or relocate in recent years, including former mainstays David Richard Gallery and James Kelly Contemporary. Gallery Fritz is in a space formerly occupied by William Siegal Gallery, which moved to a smaller space in town.

“It’s like an experiment that I’m doing,” she said. “Business isn’t as good down in the Railyard. People ask me if it’s because of the artwork that I’m featuring. Well, no. Because Canyon Road has some of the same artists and they sell so much better on Canyon Road. We can try things that are a little edgy at Gallery Fritz but, possibly, aren’t focused on the bottom line as much. Although — don’t get me wrong — I’m a business person, and I want to have a successful gallery and I want my artists to make a living.”

The Railyard galleries, on the whole, are focused more on contemporary works than traditional fine arts, such as the figurative bronze sculptures and landscape paintings that seem ubiquitous on Canyon Road. “You’d expect the Railyard to be the hub of where your client base is,” she said. “It’s not. But it will be, and that’s why I’m here. I want to lend my talents to possibly shaking it up a little bit.”

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