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Meet Charles King of King Galleries in Scottsdale

Today we’d like to introduce you to Charles King.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I opened the gallery in 1996. I had graduated from Thunderbird (American Graduate School of International Management) and had been working overseas in Russia before opening the gallery. My interest was always in Native pottery and that was the primary focus of the gallery from its inception. The gallery has remained focused entirely on objects made from clay.

My first location was on Main Street in Scottsdale. The focus was on pottery from the 1920’s to current artists. As part of the Scottsdale arts community we had monthly gallery shows featuring individual artists along with theme shows.

In addition to the gallery, I was also on the Board of Directors of Indian Arts and Crafts Association, which is an organization to promote authentic Native art. After that, I was on the Board of Directors for the Southwest Association of Indian Art (SWAIA), which is the group which puts on Santa Fe Indian Market each year. I was also on the Board of Directors for C-File, a non-profit promoting ceramic art in all forms world-wide. Authenticity and education have always been an important part of the gallery.

I was asked in 2005 to write a book on Santa Clara potter Margaret Tafoya, for an exhibition of her work at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh. The book, “Born of Fire” led to my second book, “The Art and Life of Tony Da”. Both of these focused on important historic Pueblo potters. My third book was “Virgil Ortiz: Pueblo Revolt 1680/2180”, which was in conjunction with an exhibit of his pottery at the Denver Art Museum. My most recent book, “Spoken Through Clay” was released in 2017 and focuses on Native potters using their own words to discuss their lives, art and culture.

Today, the gallery has a long-term online presence along with locations in Scottsdale and Santa Fe, NM. Education continues to be a primary focus in the gallery, along with challenging artists to continue to evolve the art form and provide a space for both traditional and contemporary clay.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Owning your own business is never a smooth road. The economic downturn in 2008 probably had the most severe impact. Buying art is typically from discretionary income, and that was in short supply, along with confidence in the economy. It took a lot of work and creative shows to keep pottery selling throughout this time. However, it also made stronger and longer lasting business relationships with the artists as we worked together to find ways to overcome a difficult economy.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
The gallery is known not just for Native pottery, but as a location for some of the most creative work being made today. Artists know it is a gallery space that educates clients and often challenges their perceptions of what they expect from Native art.

I’m most proud of the diversity of art and artists in the gallery.

The gallery is set apart from others as I think we look at the ceramics as ” art objects” and “fine art” as opposed to just crafts or souvenirs. The gallery is unique not just that it specializes in clay art, but that we represent most of the top potters working today, introduce young emerging artists and highlight historic pieces as part of education about this art.

What were you like growing up?
I grew up in Estes Park, Colorado. I was also very active in school and probably a bit too intense for my age. I read a lot and studied like crazy and wanted to travel everywhere. In college, I got my degrees in history and Russian language. It’s the history background that has served me as a foundation in the gallery business.

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King Galleries

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