Every extremely interesting story ends with “…and if you had told me a year and a half ago I would be here, I wouldn’t have believed you.” That’s how my conversation ended with Gregory Howell, owner of the Kadoya Gallery, but after our hour and a half long conversation on a Thursday night in his gallery, I was certain nobody would have ever guessed he would be in Pueblo…ever.
By day Howell is the Director of Creative Solutions at the Rocky Mountain Vein Institute. “Its what I do in real life,” he told me. By night he is the owner of a chic (but in a charming, historic kind of way), up and coming art gallery located on 119 Central Plaza, right off of 1st and Main Street in the Tutt Building.
RMVI brought Howell to Pueblo but he said he instantly fell in love with the creative culture and decided that if he was going to live in Pueblo, he wanted to make it a part of his life, as art had always been.
Howell started his own consulting company that specialized in art travel programs to Japan, China and Europe. He organized and designed journeys for trustees, members and major donors of art museums in the United States and around the world. For 17 years Howell worked with artists, curators and museum directors to produce such in depth visits.
After discovering the Tutt Building, Howell knew it was the perfect place to start up the gallery. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places and one of the few remaining flatiron buildings in the U.S., which is what really spoke to Howell.
The word “kadoya” is a Japanese word for corner house. Howell grew up in Japan and said that “kadoya” was one of his favorite words so it was practically fate that he was introduced to the building.
Almost everything about the progress of the gallery has been natural, Howell admitted to me. He described the growing number of fans on social media, the number of people who have wandered in to the gallery, and the number of people who want to get involved as spontaneous.
“It’s my hobby so I don’t have to stress a lot of things. I want it to be organic,” said Howell. He went on to tell me story after story of people wandering into the gallery because they just happened to be walking by and the art and large windows were intriguing. He said that attention has somewhat snowballed into a network of artists and interested members of the community.
Despite everything coming together in a seemingly effortless manner, Howell has focused his work on making the gallery a major element in the Pueblo art community as well as contributing to the economic success of downtown.
Howell has created an app, available for Android (Apple in the works), which allows people to learn about shows and upcoming events at the gallery. It also features a section that guides guests through their experience in downtown Pueblo. A before and after section recommends gallery goers where to stay and eat.
“I want shows to start here,” Howell told me. His vision for the gallery is to be based in Pueblo but be a hub that takes artists and their work all over the country. Traveling shows would originate at Kadoya and move from gallery to gallery all over the U.S.
Howell said that other galleries are already looking to bring California photographer Bristol MacDonald’s current show “Unbridled Souls” at Kadoya to their own galleries.
Howell releases a podcast interview with each artist that is featured at the gallery. He said his goal was to really to get the story behind the art. In the latest interview with Bristol MacDonald, he asks questions about her photography but also what her five favorite words are.
Another major goal of Howell’s is to put together a catalog that would feature artists. “Its big to say you’ve been published, and I want to give artists that,” he said. The catalog would be for artists but also for collectors all over the country.
Half way through our meeting, we began talking about “Pueblo’s art problem”. We talked about the fact that people won’t buy local art but if they see a featured Pueblo artist in Taos or Santa Fe, they’re more than eager to pull out their wallets.
It suddenly hit me that Howell might just have the solution.
However, I’m not sure Howell knows he knows the answer to this problem. He told me he seemed to believe there is a “disconnect”, that he doesn’t understand, between buyers and artists in Pueblo, but the more we chatted the more I realized his plan for the gallery was the solution.
You see, Kadoya is not just a gallery. Howell is creating an experience: the app, the excitement of the community, and his vision of the gallery being bigger and beyond Pueblo are all factors that just might turn the mindset Puebloans have of art around. For Howell it is all part of the plan, but it could also be the connection.
Howell came to Pueblo not really knowing there was a problem in the art community that needed to be solved; he knows that artists in Pueblo deserve a shot though; and his plan of action is to do what he has done for art galleries all over the world, network and expand.
by Kara Mason