The reception of artists in person from the Meyer Gallery was a long time coming

“Kessel Run,” an oil painting of the Millennium Falcon from “Star Wars,” is one of artist Santiago Michalek’s new works to be featured in an exhibition Friday at the Meyer Gallery. Michalek is known for his works depicting means of transportation.
Courtesy of Santiago Michalek

The Meyer Gallery will host its first in-person exhibition opening artist reception in nearly a year.

The reception, which will include live music and refreshments, will feature Utah painters Santiago Michalek and Jeffery R. Pugh, will run from 6 to 8 p.m. on the Monthly Gallery Walk in the Park City Gallery Association on Friday February 25.

“It’s a free, family-friendly way to spend an evening,” said gallerist Susan Meyer. “It’s one thing to see the art, but there’s something to the experience of a reception and being able to talk with the artist about a work you like and hearing them talk about technique. Having this in our gallery is something that appeals to me, the artists, the staff and the collectors.”

As for COVID-19 protocols, those who want to wear masks can do so, Meyer said.

“I will wear a mask and masks will be provided at the door,” she said. “But at this point in the pandemic, we don’t demand them.”

The artists will show their works in two separate exhibitions, according to Meyer.

“One will take up our entire upstairs space and the other will take up our entire downstairs,” she said. “It’s something I introduced because there aren’t enough dates for all the artists who deserve to have their own solo shows.”

Michalek, born in Argentina, who paints images of means of transport, prepared 12 to 15 pieces, while Pugh, originally from Utah, known for his rural landscapes, painted 24 works, Meyer said.

“Some of Santiago’s works are very large and a lot of Jeff’s works are small, so it equates to about the same amount of canvas in the exhibits,” she said.

Meyer began representing these artists as soon as they finished their art studies over ten years ago.

Jeffery R. Pugh’s oil paintings, such as “A Day in the Life,” which is on display at the Meyer Gallery, are inspired by rural landscapes.
Courtesy of Jeffery R. Pugh

“Jeff had just graduated from the University of Utah with a fine arts degree, and Santiago had his own business restoring old Volkswagens,” she said. “He was a renowned restorer, but he painted and drew when he was not working. He enrolled in a small art school in Provo that no longer exists and realized that was what he wanted to do.

Their works impressed Meyer on different levels.

“When it comes to painters, I’m looking for good raw talent and skill,” she said. “I review all of their work, as I hope to avoid artists who only have one look at their work. I look for artists who have a wide range of abilities and talents, because I think they are the ones who will last the longest.

Meyer also imagines whether or not she can see an artist’s work hanging in a museum, when deciding who to represent.

“It’s a little test that I do, and it’s served me pretty well in finding young artists and sticking with them,” she said.

A strong work ethic and a degree of professionalism are also factored into Meyer’s decisions.

“These artists are running their own business, and if they can’t meet deadlines, they won’t be useful to galleries, or other professions for that matter,” she said.

Additionally, Meyer generally selects artists whose work exudes a Western flavor that is not considered Western art.

“Jeffery Pugh’s work may be set in Wisconsin or the Midwest, but it reflects the rural Utah countryside very well,” she said. “And the old cars and vintage trains of Santiago is something we certainly see even driving around in the outskirts of Summit County.”

Meyer is grateful that the two artists wanted to attend an in-person reception this month.

“It’s like the difference between watching live music on a screen and being present,” she said. “It’s a whole different experience.”

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