Jace Romick welcomes community into expanded gallery in downtown Steamboat
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — As a young boy growing up in Steamboat Springs, Jace Romick used to explore 837 Lincoln Ave. with wide eyes. Forty-five years ago, the building hosted a toy store, full of enticing treasures.
“I never could have imagined that I’d be in here like this, now,” Romick said.
This week, Romick has been putting the finishing touches on the remodeled building, which is now home to his expanded art gallery.
After a yearlong stint in a gallery at the Chief Theater, Romick hung his work in a small section of the 837 Lincoln space on a lease in October 2017. The Jace Romick/R Diamond Gallery displayed his large-scale photographs — many impressionistic and vaguely abstract — of horses, wildlife, skiing and local landscapes, encased in one-of-a-kind frames of reclaimed wood that Romick builds himself. He calls the style “mountain modern.”
Within a few months of moving into the gallery space, Romick bought the entire building, going from a single-story, 800-square-foot space to nearly 3,000 square feet over two stories. It’s doubled the amount of photography he displays and added space for other artists’ pieces.
Romick rolled up his sleeves and got to work redesigning the interior, utilizing his career before photography: a nearly 30-year background in interior design in Steamboat.
“I have an eye for the style people are looking for here,” Romick said.
What: Jace Romick/R Diamond Gallery’s First Friday Art Walk
When: 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, July 5
Where: Jace Romick/R Diamond Gallery, 837 Lincoln Ave.
Romick took down walls, opened up the floor plan and resurfaced the door to a built-in, closet-sized safe, from the days of when the building housed a jewelry store. He added reclaimed wooden beams and rails throughout the space, matching the wood of many of his frames. He painted the walls a bright white, highlighting each art piece.
Upstairs, he added a sleek handrail of modern, thin iron and reclaimed wood. He cut a row of windows to the second story, allowing natural light to glow throughout the space. He added several floating gallery walls, which can easily be detached to make space for artist receptions and dinners.
On both levels, several different vignettes invite gallery-goers to get comfy. There are several pairs of comfortable chairs set up together, positioned so the people who sit in them can gaze at a large multi-canvas photograph or cozy up at a fireplace.
A mounted elk head overlooking the gallery stairs pays homage to a bit of Steamboat history. Henry and Helen Rehder gifted a building to the city in hopes of it being developed into a museum. It now houses Steamboat Art Museum. The Rehders were like grandparents to Romick, and the elk head is the last one that Henry Rehder ever hunted.
All in all, Romick estimates he did half the remodeling of the gallery himself.
“I enjoyed the remodeling as a project,” Romick said. “But I’m glad to be done and to have time to do more photography again.”
In addition to Romick’s custom-framed photographs in the Jace Romick Gallery section of the building — about half the pieces in the building — there’s also the R Diamond Gallery, which features paintings and sculptures from a half dozen artists from across Colorado, including Chula Beauregard, Brian Bonebrake and Israel Holloway from Steamboat.
Five of the R Diamond artists were represented at Denver’s Coors Western Art Exhibit and Sale, one of the finest exhibitions of contemporary realism in the West.
“To have the opportunity to be representing five of them is pretty incredible,” Romick said.
Romick is proud that so much of his gallery is completely from Steamboat. Besides Romick living here for decades and showcasing elements of his upbringing in his photographs, he also prints his pieces locally and builds the frames locally.
“People never used to think of Steamboat as a gallery town. They used to go to Aspen, Vail or Jackson,” Romick said. “But we’re becoming a gallery town. This is a great example of that.”
The Jace Romick Gallery and R Diamond Gallery have been open to the public for several weeks, but the July 5 First Friday Artwalk marks the galleries’ first major event. The Artwalk lasts from 5 to 8 p.m.
“What the expansion really does is represent the art and photography in a much better way,” Romick said. “It’s a better space to appreciate the art.”
Julia Ben-Asher is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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