We had the good fortune of connecting with Kris and Liese Chavez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kris and Liese, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
As a word of warning to anyone wishing to open a small business: Don’t overwork yourself! Okay, that was 3 words. But I stick by them. During the first year Chavez Gallery was open to the public we were open 6 days a week and painted feverishly to have a new themed art show every month. It was a lot of work not just from the art production standpoint, but also from a marketing and customer service standpoint. We were making a profit but we were completely exhausted by the end of the first year. We could have easily called it quits as a brick-and-mortar gallery at that point due to burnout but instead we realized we weren’t stuck with the choices we had made. We reduced our days open to 5 and brought our art production to a more manageable level by doing 6 themed shows a year instead of 12. We regained our mental health and our physical well-being as a result. Seven years on and we’re still putting our mental health ahead of profit and we believe both our gallery and personal lives have flourished as a result.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
From Liese- I have always been drawn to imagery that tells a human story. Be it myth, legend, history, or just a glimpse of what it means to be alive and full of emotion, these images cross language barriers and show us a reflection of who we are inside. Because of this passion my work would best be described as Narrative Surrealism. Each of my oil paintings tells a visual story, sometimes humorous, sometimes unsettling, but always with a dream-like quality that draws you into strange and beautiful worlds.
I delight in depicting the resiliency and tenacity of the human spirit. My subjects are often strong females finding power or humor in a less than ideal world. These themes are designed to remind us of our strengths and help us keep our sense of humor when things just don’t go as planned.
I continue to expand my knowledge of layered oil painting techniques for creating delicate flesh, so that I may depict how fragile we are, as well as how fierce.
Becoming a full-time artist was by no means easy, but it has been the most rewarding work I have ever done. Having an amazing partner in business and life has made everything so much easier, so all the gratitude to my husband Kris for being everything to me. Dedication to the study of art and how to sell it, focused planning while still remaining flexible, and a true passion for surrealism have helped me overcome so many hurdles on this journey. Goals are so important. Moving towards them doesn’t always bring you where you thought you’d go, but you are bound to get somewhere! I look forward to all the mysteries still ahead of me in my art career.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
For Adventure- The many incredible trails available here in Colorado, especially Mueller State Park where I spend a lot of free time.
Cave of the Winds obstacle course for getting out of your comfort zone and just having silly fun.
Denver Museum of Nature and Science is always a fun and informative visit and the dioramas are just amazing.
Denver Botanical Gardens never ever disappoints.
Floor 6 of the Denver Art Museum
Rosemount House Museum in Pueblo
Lunch-Alfonso’s for the best Burritos
Dinner- Nara Sushi
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Liese gained many of the skills that helped us open our own art gallery by working for several years for Bianca Codiga at Mountain Living Gallery in Manitou Springs (now closed). There she learned how to deal with business taxes, sales reports, managing consigned inventory, payroll, art show display and advertising through social media and email. Learning these skills really helped set us up for success in our business. Liese wants to mention her mother because she always encouraged Liese to be creative and brave and her example as a leader and entrepreneur had a significant impact on Liese’s trajectory.
Kris would like to acknowledge his college art instructor James McConnell for teaching him much more than how to paint in watercolor. McConnell gave Kris access to lots of additional study materials in response to Kris’ passion for the arts. Because McConnell was an illustrator, he also taught Kris how to break a few purist art rules to achieve his painting goals in a timely manner.
Finally, we’d like to give our heartfelt thanks to every single person who has traded their hard-earned dollars for our artwork or recommended our gallery to a friend or family member. Each one of you have been crucial to our ability to continue to create. You are everything to us!