By Caitlin Switzer
MONTROSE—Step into A+Y Design Gallery (513 East Main St.), and feast your eyes…rich colors and textures abound, from the hand-crafted furniture built by Adam Duncan, who owns the gallery with his wife Yesenia, to complex and beautiful contemporary works created by 16 different local artists. In a world increasingly dominated by mass production and cookiecutter sameness, A+Y Design Gallery celebrates the personal touch in a way that reflects and promotes the talents of Western Colorado artists and artisans.
“We are just trying to get exposure for our artists—they are all local, and we want to support local business,” said Yesenia Duncan, who operates the gallery and handles promotional efforts.
“We want to be a venue where people can come in, bring their kids, and look around.”
At age 29, Yesenia Duncan has become a well-known local presence, thanks to her work on behalf of the A+Y Design Gallery, which is open Monday through Saturday, and as a volunteer for local organizations such as the Downtown Development Authority.
“I do a lot of volunteer work,” she acknowledged. “But it’s really exciting, and it helps to promote Downtown and our local businesses.”
A native of Florida, Yesenia met and married Adam in Greeley. When the couple found that they were going to be parents, they decided to return to Montrose, Adam’s childhood home. Before opening A+Y Gallery to showcase the custom furniture that Adam began crafting eight years ago, Yesenia worked in youth programs for Hilltop Community Resources.
“My boss, Kaye Hotsenpiller, was absolutely awesome,” Duncan said. “It was hard to leave! But Kaye and I are still good friends. And the Gallery was a longtime goal—so when the opportunity came along, we dove into it.”
Although little more than a year old, A+Y Design Gallery has already played a key role in a variety of diverse events, including the Poker Cruise during Downtown’s Bike Week, and the recent Public Art eXperience (PAX) arts and culture shopping event during the First Friday stroll on Sept. 7.
“We don’t always see a lot of volume, but these things do create exposure for our business,” Duncan said. “As small business owners, we would be crazy not to want to take part.”
In addition to helping to promote the increasing popular First Friday strolls, Duncan said she is considering such state-ofthe-art marketing strategies as “cash mobs.”
“We could send out a notice on Facebook, telling everyone to come Downtown, bring $20, and spend it,” she said. “I want people to come down here, and spend more than 20 minutes. Take your time, and look at the sculptures. Driving through does not do our Downtown justice—there are more than just two blocks here.”
In October, A+Y Design Gallery will feature an artist skilled in hand forging, as well as live music and wines by Mountain View Winery of Olathe.
Upcoming offerings also include an IPad art class, in keeping with the Gallery’s focus on contemporary art and ideas.
Adam Duncan’s furniture continues to be a top seller, Yesenia said, appealing as it does to a clientele appreciative of its unique look and feel. “People can walk in, see a piece, and make it their own,” Yesenia said. “We do custom work. And a lot of people buy pieces right off the floor as well.”
Perhaps one of the most significant elements in A+Y Design Gallery, however, is the small basket of sidewalk chalk that invites shoppers and spectators to become participants in the Downtown experience.
“Come and chalk our walk!” Yesenia Duncan said. “Our own kids are here every day, and we want to be familyfriendly—after all, you were a kid once too!” Contact A+Y Design Gallery at 970240-7914, or visit them online at www.aydesigngallery.com.