Claire Marlow strolled through the spacious room lined in paintings and through a sunbeam from a skylight high in the ceiling. She placed labels alongside paintings by an artist from Missouri who shows in metropolitan areas across the U.S.
She opened Scarlow’s Gallery four years ago in downtown Casper.
Since then, it has hosted artists from Casper and across the country. The past year has been one of the gallery’s best with the amount and variety of amazing art, she said.
At first it was a challenge to book artists, especially from out of state, Marlow said. Some weren’t sure about a gallery in Casper, Wyoming. Many art buyers are tourists who look for Wyoming scenes, so it can be a risk for a gallery to bring in other kinds of art, she added. Every show might not be everybody’s cup of tea, she added, but that’s the fun part — to offer a little taste of everything.
Bringing in different art and cultural experiences for viewers has been the goal since she opened the gallery.
“This gallery is a labor of love,” Marlow said.
The idea started after she and her husband, Tyrell Marlow, took over the longstanding Goedicke’s Custom Framing & Art Supply five years ago. The next-door space then served as storage for the business. But as she met artists, she thought of another way to use it.
“I realized that there was a lot of art in Casper that wasn’t being shown,” Marlow said. “So I just thought I would create a community space where artists could show their pieces.”
They cleared the space, took out a wall section between the two shop spaces, replaced the floor, painted and added some gallery lighting. The couple named it Scarlow’s — a blend of their last name and her maiden name, Scarbeary.
The new space hosted a successful group show of local artists and Marlow realized the potential of the open area with high ceilings, a balcony overlook and dramatic skylight, she said.
“The first thing every single person says is, ‘Wow what a beautiful space,’” she said.
One of the gallery’s breakout shows was last year with Denver watercolor and tattoo artist Dan Marshall, she said.
“We were lucky enough to snag him for his very first solo show of his career, and he’s kind of a big deal now,” she added.
Marshall suggested she start a website for the gallery, which now features artists who’ve shown and upcoming shows with bios and examples of their work.
Marlow was one of the original organizers of the Casper Art Walk in 2015, and the gallery often hosts receptions for new shows on the first Thursday of the month. The space also has held classes, wine dinner events with artists and yoga sessions.
Keeping it going
The biggest challenges include finding artists interested in showing with a large enough body of work for a gallery show and coordinating dates with their schedules.
“It’s a full time job,” Marlow said. “I have three businesses. I sell art supplies. I do custom framing and I run an art gallery.”
She finds many of the artists on social media and cold calls them, like she did to land Denver painter Laura Guese’s 2016 show “Cloud Peaks.”
Several of the artists have had local ties, like Luke Whitlatch from Casper who now works in Los Angeles. His show “Here Lies the Void I Once Knew,” earlier this summer featured abstract paintings.
Some Marlow discovered in exhibitions at the Nicolaysen Art Museum, like Sarah Williams, who’s current show at Scarlow’s is titled “Home-Place.”
“You may not have big sales here,” Marlow tells artists. ”But you are helping grow art in a smaller community.”
Scarlow’s and the community seemed a good environment to showcase her work, which focuses on rural Midwestern towns, said Williams, a professor at Missouri State University. The paintings highlight “mundane structures that most people either don’t see or take the time to truly see,” she said. “But through the painting process, something that’s insignificant really gains a lot of significance, and over the years, I’ve come to realize that my work, it somehow allows structures to act as a surrogate for either a person or identity or the actual region that they’re coming from.”
Perhaps people here will find something in common with what her art is about and share her passion for small towns, she said.
“I love the idea of something that’s community-oriented and community-minded and trying to bring things to the people of a place that might be considered a flyover zone or something like that,” she said. “So if I can participate and help in some way in an effort like that, then I absolutely will.”
The next few shows at Scarlow’s feature Wyoming artists, including Patrick Kikut of Laramie — whose work has been shown at the Nicolaysen — Casper’s Ryan Atkins and David von Metz from Rock Springs.
The gallery has grown more into the professional realm in the past few years with shows moving through about every two months, Marlow said.
Her goal is to keep Scarlow’s Gallery heading in that direction and continue helping a strong local arts scene.
“The overall goal is to keep it going and keep it strong,” Marlow said. ”I really want to see it establish itself as a local community space that people know they can come and just see great art, and interesting art.”