Old Town stung by news of Garman’s ‘09 closure plans
Sculptor to fly in for Aug. 11 press conference
Recent news that Michael Garman Galleries - one of the Westside's largest and most prominent businesses - will shut its doors early next year has caused regret and
concern in Old Colorado City.
“It makes me sick to my stomach,” commented Judy Kasten, an accountant who is also the chair of the Old Colorado City Security & Maintenance District Advisory Committee. “Garman's has been a stable presence here.”
Jim Heikes, president of the Old Colorado City Associates merchants group, described the store as a “draw” for the area. “It will be a tremendous loss,” he said. “It's a great place for people to go.”
Michael Gar-man's youngest daughter Vanessa, who helps manage the business, said a press conference with her father (who is flying in from Europe this weekend) is scheduled Monday, Aug. 11 at the Old Colorado City storefront/studio/production facility/distribution center, 2418 W. Colorado Ave.
She confirmed reports about the closure this week, but put off detailed responses until the press conference. A general announcement had been planned for later this month, but she mistakenly released information early to a local publication, she said.
In a separate interview, Michael P. Garman, the sculptor's 36-year-old son who created several of the pieces sold in the gallery, corrected a statement in the earlier report that after managing the business for five years (until his departure last December), he was no longer interested in the business. On the contrary, he said he wants it to continue it and has talked to his father about buying it.
The elder Garman, 70, has been creating and selling sculpted character figures - many of them seedy types representative of his colorful younger years - for over half a century. Since the mid-1970s, that work has been centered at the 2418 building, inside which he has created new figures along with a three-dimensional “Magic Town” that features many of them.
That building, which is also Garman's residence, recently went on the market. The two-story brick structure, built in 1903, consists of 28,533 square feet, El Paso County Assessor's Office records state. Close to 8,500 square feet of additional space is in the basement, according to the Hoff & Leigh real-estate company, which is offering the property for $1.85 million.
Kasten believes that the loss could have an adverse impact on the historic shopping area's economy, but tempered that opinion with the comment, “I also felt that way when Simpich [which had made character dolls in Old Town since the 1970s] closed.”
Schoch's Hardware and Rogers Bar were other prominent Old Colorado City businesses that shut down during the past 10 years, noted Kasten's daughter Lori Kasten, who organizes the annual Old Colorado City Halloween event, but the area survived. As for Simpich, a new Simpich gallery is planned in the same building in the months ahead. “Hopefully, something good will replace it [Garman's],” she said.
Westside Pioneer article