What do you do?
Michael Velez

Where do you work and what is your title?
       Velez Galleries in Old Colorado City. We sell fine indigenous art of the Americas, paintings, jewelry, sculpture, pottery, beadwork, basketry and furniture. I’m the owner.
What do you do there and/or what are you responsible for?
       I’m in charge of sales and jewelry repairs, and I do fine woodworking, including furniture. Re-cently I started working with metals and stones to create jewelry. I also educate customers on the difference between indigenous art (native made) and Southwest art (native looking.)
How long have you been doing this kind of work (total)? How long on the Westside?
       I used to be a landscaper in the summer, and in winter I’d look for carpentry work, making $3 an hour. When I found out how much one of the doors I made sold for, I decided to save my money, buy my own tools and start a gallery with my furniture and my brother Andrew’s art. That was in 1988. Now we’re one of the oldest galleries in the state. Our first place was a warehouse on Knob Hill, then we moved to the downtown area in 1990. We relocated to the Westside about three years ago.
What do you like best about it (other than quitting time)?
       Knowing all our products are American-made and that monies go to them. I am helping them out. Some of these artists/crafters don’t even have running water or electricity. Most live in Third World conditions.
If you could change one thing (other than pay), what would it be?
       Not much. I like being my own boss. Maybe more time off.
What part of your work did your training/education never prepare you for?
       When I get paid. Sometimes it can be slow, then other times one person or day can make your week or month.
What makes working on the Westside special?
       Being close to the mountains (and home). Meeting people, including tourists from all over the world that come into the gallery.

“What do you do?” is a regular feature in the Westside Pioneer. If you know someone who has an interesting job on the Westside (but doesn’t live here), he/she might be a candidate for this column! If you know someone who might qualify, give us a call at 471-6776.