The Fountain Hills Artists Gallery: A riot of color featuring local artists

Visitors who wish they could take some of Fountain Hills’ beauty and charm home with them are in for a pleasant surprise. There’s a very good chance they’ll find a unique memento at the Fountain Hills Artists Gallery, conveniently located on Avenue of the Fountains.

The non-profit gallery is a co-op of approximately 30 local artists who work together to showcase their respective mediums and styles including wall art, sculpture, jewelry and ceramics, featuring mosaics, glass, fiber, gourds, and other materials.

“It’s a riot of color,” Margaret Sullivan, gallery manager, says in summary of what visitors experience when they walk through the doors. “We have such limited space so there’s only six inches between each artist on the wall. You see a lot more color here than you would if you go into a conventional gallery.”

You see a lot more variety, too, primarily due to the co-op’s diligence in selecting artists who complement, not compete, with each other. If artists share the same medium, it’s because they have distinctly different styles. For example, while one pottery artist is functional, the other is decorative. Of the two photographers currently in residence, one uses a computer to infuse his work with color while the other solely sells photographs of landscapes and animals of the southwest.

Each artist signs a one-year agreement and pays rent based on the amount of space they occupy. As part of the co-op agreement, each artist works in the gallery several days a month and agrees to participate in two events during the year. Artists keep the proceeds of what they sell, minus a 3.5% fee the gallery keeps to cover the cost of credit card processing fees. This helps keep operating costs down, and the artists price their art accordingly. A list of current artists is available on the gallery’s website.

Margaret, who is the gourd artist in the gallery, has been managing the co-op since 2010. Like many, she became an artist later in life, after she became enamored with a painted gourd she saw on a friend’s coffee table. When a health condition severely limited her involvement with tennis and golf, she started selling her work at art shows and, eventually, in the Fountain Hills Artists Gallery.

“I can sell my artist's work better than I can sell mine,” she said with a laugh explaining that she trains new artists how to showcase the entire gallery. “We want visitors to come in and enjoy the art, while still being available if you have questions.”

Like most businesses, the gallery is involved in a variety of community events, most notably the Fountain Hills Chamber of Commerce’s annual Stroll in the Glow at Christmastime, when Avenue of the Fountains is turned into a festive event reminiscent of a Hallmark movie. That’s when many businesses stay open late and the gallery hosts a Christmas Market where their artists offer their work for a 40% discount.

Upcoming events are listed on the gallery’s website but Margaret encourages visitors to stop by whenever they are in town.

“If you’re visiting Fountain Hills, this is a destination you can’t afford to miss,” she said. “Our art is unique, well priced, and there’s always at least one artist to answer your questions and visit with you. We aren’t here so much to sell art as we are to talk about art, but if you do leave with something, you’re taking a piece of Fountain Hills home with you.”

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