When I sat down with Patricia Rovzar to discuss the 20th anniversary of her gallery, two potential art buyers were looking around. As they moved among vividly colored figurative and abstract paintings, gallery director Erik Bennion pointed them toward a cluster of quirky sculptures by Robin and John Gumaelius. The conversation was lively and casual. The couple was clearly intrigued.
This scene is typical for the gallery and indicative of its success. With an emphasis on color, manageable scale, and engaging, familiar, or endearingly eccentric subject matter, the gallery’s artwork is immensely appealing and accessible (in style, if not, for many, in price). It is art that can be easily imagined in your home.
Rovzar says, “I knew since I was in high school that I would be in the art business in some capacity. It was my passion and it was the only thing that really drove me.” After graduating from San Diego State University, Rovzar worked in the Los Angeles art scene for several years. In 1992, Rovzar moved to the Northwest because she “loved the area and saw great potential for the art business.” She first set up shop in Kirkland, drawn by the booming economy of the Eastside and the presence of the stalwart gallery Foster/White. Rovzar says Don Foster became “a kind of ideal. He was a wonderful man and so great to his artists. ”
In 2006, Rovzar opened a second location — and a prime location at that — right across the street from the Seattle Art Museum on Second Avenue. After maintaining both galleries for several years, she subsequently closed the Kirkland store in order to focus on “the little jewelry box” of the downtown space.
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While the economic downturn has been disastrous for many dealers, Rovzar notes that her gallery felt it as “barely a flutter. It is a lot harder. The business climate has changed, but our gallery has been lucky.”
Seattle-area sculptor Don Charles, who has been with the gallery for more than eight years, says that “there’s simpatico between her choice of artists and her customers’ desires. She knows her clients very well and she also learns about each of the artists and selects artists to match with the clients.” Charles points out that the gallery’s success also rests on the quality and appeal of the art. “Patricia focuses on aesthetically pleasing art. She’s not pushing cutting-edge pickled sharks.”
When asked what’s in store for the next 20 years, Rovzar laughs and says, “I want to be around for a good long time. Don Foster retired when he was close to 80, and I’m only 55. I want to be here for artists, particularly for artists like Z.Z. Wei who have great potential for a bigger arena. I want to be here for them as they hit those bigger arenas. I’m not done yet.”