3500 Central Ave. S.E.
Albuquerque, NM 87106
Located in Albuquerque's lively Nob Hill retail district, Mariposa Gallery is a beloved local institution, having showcased fine craft by southwestern makers since 1974. When founder Fay Abrams retired in 2005, she sold the place to her employees Liz Dineen and Jennifer Rohrig, who have preserved its original spirit in their own accessible, community-oriented style.
You specialize in supporting the emerging artist. Has that always been a focus at Mariposa?
JR: A lot of successful New Mexico artists had their first gallery experience with Mariposa, and it's an honor for Liz and me to continue that tradition. We take great joy in finding new artists; it's something we're both passionate about for sure. Most of them continue to show with us even as their careers grow.
Who are your customers?
JR: Our customer base is not elitist. Anybody can come in here and buy artwork. One of us is always here and that interaction has been really important to our success. We have personal relationships with our clients. We've been working a lot with younger collectors, people in their 30s who are interested in starting a collection.
LD: They might be the children of people who shopped with us in the 1970s. That's been a great cyclical thing.
JR: When you have an art gallery, you're part of the community. People come in to see what's going on in the culture around them. Our openings are a gathering place. When the idea of Liz and me taking over the gallery came up, it was mostly about passing the torch. Mariposa has a life of its own, a long history of being about the community and the artists who exhibit here.
But you've put your own stamp on it.
JR: We definitely have taken it in a new direction.
LD: We carry a lot more two-dimensional work, and we do well with it, too.
JR: Younger collectors are open to all mediums. So we can exhibit paintings next to ceramic or wire sculptures, or juxtaposed with an amazing piece of jewelry by Kristin Diener. Cynthia Cook makes these incredibly intricate shadow boxes, all of recycled materials, and it is fine, fine art. It's hard for us to label what we show here, because those labels are all mixed and blurred now. It's an exciting time for art.
What sustains the business in a tough economy?
JR: Customer service. We have the most loyal group of people that support us. It's our goal that everyone who comes in that door not only feels comfortable, but that it's a fun experience in every way. There's a lot of laughing here, a ton of humor, color, great art. We like to put food out.
LD: We like you to bring your dog in.
JR: Yeah, we're dog-friendly. We're the anti-stuffy gallery. It's all about experiencing art the way it should be experienced, the way it's going to be in your home.