LewAllen Galleries Timeline
LewAllen Galleries | The gallery is founded in 1976 by the legendary Elaine Horwitch, one of the most colorful and important figures in contemporary Southwestern American Art.
LewAllen Galleries | After Horwitch’s death in 1991, well-respected Santa Fe gallerist Arlene LewAllen partners with the Horwitch family and ultimately buys the gallery, changing the name to LewAllen Contemporary in 1997.
LewAllen Galleries | Kenneth Marvel (left) and Robert Gardner (right) purchase the gallery in 2003 after Arlene LewAllen’s death in 2002.
LewAllen Galleries | The original gallery location in Downtown Santa Fe included the building above, constructed by the Horwitch family and specially designed to include a second level to house heavy stone sculpture. Gardner and Marvel continued the tradition of festive show openings in this space.
LewAllen Galleries | Leading international art writer and critic, Edward Lucie-Smith, shown here, helps inaugurate new program expansion to include Modernist Art with exhibition of Russian Futurist David Burliuk. Prominent NY gallerist, Louis Newman, becomes LewAllen Director of Modernism in 2016.
LewAllen Galleries | Larry Brown, long-time Marvel colleague from previous design and marketing business, joins LewAllen as senior director of sales and establishes relationship-based and education-focused sales and marketing program.
LewAllen Galleries | Beginning in 2004, the gallery’s scope is expanded to create a major concentration on shows to renew attention for underrecognized 20th century artists of great artistic merit; shown here is the first Dan Christensen exhibition in 2004.
LewAllen Galleries | The gallery begins building its own museum-like facility in the Railyard Arts District of Santa Fe and works with award-winning art-space architect to design new building with nearly 14,000 square feet of exhibition, art storage, and office space.
LewAllen Galleries | New facility opens to wide acclaim and wins an architectural award. LewAllen is able to stage robust program of up to 20 exhibitions annually accompanied by catalogs and brochures, plus newly launched website, to extend its commitment to information and stories about the gallery's artists and their artwork.
Founded in 1976
LewAllen Galleries has a long and rich history, starting with the original founder of the gallery, who was one of the most colorful and important figures in contemporary Southwestern American Art.
The gallery began in 1976 when the legendary Elaine Horwitch opened her gallery location at 129 West Palace Avenue in Santa Fe. Horwitch was well known throughout the art world as flamboyant and courageous as she pioneered what became known nationally as “Art of the Southwest,” and for launching the careers of hundreds of successful artists during the ‘70s and ‘80s.
Her roster expanded to include an unheard-of more than 200 artists and she was famous for elaborate and highly anticipated openings. Horwitch put her gallery on the national map, presenting important art by internationally prominent artists who transcended regional concentration. Works by such figures as Larry Rivers, Georgia O’Keeffe, Louise Nevelson, Robert Rauschenberg, Helen Frankenthaler, Paul Jenkins, Jim Dine, Sam Francis, and Fritz Scholder, among others, were represented. National and international “blue chip” art was exhibited side-by-side with high-quality Southwestern art with a broader focus on excellence, irrespective of geography, which distinguishes the gallery’s program today.
The Elaine Horwitch era ended with her unexpected death on September 21, 1991. The Horwitch family continued the business, with various members assuming gallery responsibilities.
The gallery joined forces in 1994 with the well-respected Santa Fe gallerist Arlene LewAllen to become the Horwitch LewAllen Gallery. In 1997 the gallery became owned exclusively by LewAllen and its name changed to “LewAllen Contemporary.”
Arlene LewAllen was a much-beloved figure in the Santa Fe arts community whose significant experience as an arts educator and gallerist qualified her to build upon the Horwitch legacy, but also to establish a number of important new directions consistent with evolving changes in the art market during the 1990s. She directed the gallery’s transition toward a more sophisticated, nationally-focused art program. Unfortunately, Arlene LewAllen died unexpectedly on June 14, 2002.
On May 31, 2003, LewAllen Contemporary was purchased by Robert Gardner and Kenneth Marvel. Life partners and now business partners as well, Gardner and Marvel had previous careers in business, law, and education. Moving to Santa Fe and becoming involved in the art business was the fulfillment of an exciting quality of life ambition for them as they approached the second half of their lives.
Marvel had grown up in an arts family where his father had been the Dean of Fine and Performing Arts of a university. Graduating from Harvard Law School, Marvel became a partner in a prominent law firm, practicing merger, acquisition, finance, and litigation strategy law. Subsequently, he became part-owner and president/CEO of an international design, manufacturing, and marketing holding company and was then involved in commercial real estate and private investments. Gardner received a Masters degree in Journalism from Boston University and then an MBA from the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University where he established and managed, for nearly 20 years, the Executive Education Program for senior international business executives, designing and conducting educational programs in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, as well as, the United States.
After studying various aspects of the art market, the new gallery owners determined they would build on both the national and regional aspects of the gallery’s program of excellence. In 2007, they were joined by Larry Brown, who had worked with Marvel as a senior sales vice-president in the design company. Brown assumed leadership of the gallery’s sales activities and helped to establish the gallery’s core commitment to relationship rather than transactional selling. He has helped facilitate the gallery’s marketing program rooted in education and sharing of stories about art and its artists, all of which continues to this day.
In 2004, Gardner and Marvel established a Modernist Art Department to complement the long-standing Contemporary Art program. Since then, major estates and individual collectors have consigned to the gallery important American and European works including, for example, collections of paintings by the pioneer American Modernist Milton Avery; Bay Area Figurative painters such as David Park, Raimonds Staprans, Elmer Bischoff and James Weeks; Pop Art protagonist James Gill; muralist Jean Charlot; American scene painter Raphael Soyer; and sculptor Isamu Noguchi, among others.
LewAllen Modern has also presented works of noted European Modernists such as Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder, the Russian Futurist David Burliuk; Parisian Impressionist landscape painter Armand Guillaumin; French abstract painter Jean Helion; French Neo-Impressionist Maximilien Luce; to name a few. Another important part of the new direction initiated by Gardner and Marvel was expansion of the gallery’s scope to create a major concentration on reconsidering the work and careers of 20th century artists whose artistic merit was underrecognized in the current market. The gallery established what has become a robust program of exhibitions attracting renewed attention of collectors and institutions to the superlative excellence of many greats of the Abstract-Expressionist, Post-Painterly, Color-Field, Op Art, and Geometric Abstraction genres, especially of the New York School and other post-World War II periods.
Continuing to expand in this area, the well-known gallerist, Louis Newman, became the director of the gallery’s Modern Art Department in 2016. Newman has has more than 45 years of experience in the art world, first as the owner of the Louis Newman Galleries in Beverly Hills, California, and later as the Director of the David Findlay, Jr. Gallery in New York. Under his direction, LewAllen Modern has curated recent exhibitions of works by Picasso, Edvard Munch, New York Modernists, Southwestern Modernists, New York Abstract painter Jack Roth, first generation New York School Abstract Expressionist Albert Kotin, Spanish/American Color Abstractionist Esteban Vicente, Mid-Century American landscape painter Herman Maril, Italian/American Surrealist/Abstract painter Enrico Donati, 20th Century American Modernist Esphyr Slobodkina, and New Realist painter Philip Pearlstein, among others.
In 2007, the gallery was offered the opportunity to build a new museum-like facility in the emerging Railyard Arts District of Santa Fe. Always believing in the longer-term economic benefits of real estate equity ownership, Gardner and Marvel committed to the project, and in 2008, construction of the new building began. Designed by the award-winning architect of museum and gallery spaces, Devendra Contractor, whose work includes the Vladem Contemporary Museum of Art in Santa Fe, the dramatically contemporary building was completed in 2009 and has won architectural awards.
Comprised of nearly 14,000 square feet of exhibition, art storage, and office space, the facility includes two large main-floor exhibition galleries, the Main Hall and Pavilion Gallery, each with 23-foot ceilings and innovative flex walls that allow various configurations for major exhibitions. A third, more intimate gallery on the ground floor is designed for LewAllen Modern’s smaller shows. The second level houses offices and exhibition areas, as well as, a dedicated sculpture terrace for medium-scale work. The terrace opens to the outdoors and overlooks the gallery’s main entrance and a landscaped sculpture plaza for large works on one side, and has a glassed-in area hovering over the Main Hall interior on the other. Beneath the building’s footprint is a climate-controlled “vault” that affords art storage and private presentation space.
The gallery blends state-of-the-art lighting systems with carefully planned use of natural light. Designed with striking expanses of glass that tie the outdoors to the inside of the gallery, the exterior is finished with an interplay of metal panels and natural materials to create a compatible yet more contemporary design than many of the other building in the vicinity. The building offers a distinctive architectural energy for the Santa Fe Railyard Arts District that is both pleasing to the eye of the observer, and meets the needs of the artwork and gallerists inside.