Abigail Kreuser and Gundega Stevens have had what Kreuser calls “parallel life paths.” Both are successful gallery owners here in Colorado Springs; Kreuser owns Kreuser Gallery at 125 E. Boulder St., Stevens owns G44 Gallery at 1785 S. Eighth St., Suite A. Both are mothers with 4-year-old children. Both have a passion for the creative community and bringing the arts to more people. And, of course, both have used their drive and ambition to make our arts scene more vibrant, to share more voices and connect more people.
Kreuser studied photography at Colorado Mountain College, then at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, and Stevens studied art history before becoming a curator at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Both of them knew for a long time that they wanted to own their own galleries and, since achieving their dreams, they have become integral parts of our local creative community.
Now, their friendship has led to a professional partnership, wherein they curate art and create a space for art collectors, businesses and those looking to decorate their homes with pieces by local artists.
The Indy will be sitting down with Kreuser and Stevens at a virtual COS Creatives event on Nov. 19, to talk about their paths to creative success. Meantime, we wanted to introduce them to you.
Indy: Let’s start with your creative journey. How did you get into art?
Kreuser: It started in high school; I just found my passion for photography. And I had a great aunt, on my dad’s side, that was really into photography, and she would always talk to me about it and do stuff with vintage cameras with me whenever we visited Wisconsin. I took a photography class in high school, and I fell in love. And so I decided, that’s what I wanted to do in college. I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do with it, but I decided to make that my major. … I came from an entrepreneurial family, and so I knew I wanted to take some business classes. And I took a gallery class and I fell in love with the class and knew that someday I wanted to open a gallery. So when I got out of school, I actually worked for this company called Accent Photo, which is no longer around, and developed the fine art department there where I worked one-on-one with artists, teaching them how to promote themselves. When I left there, I got a side job working at Phantom Canyon. They hired me as a server, but also to do their curating there, so I started doing that and talking to [developer] Chuck Murphy. I told him I really want to have a gallery someday, and when the first Kreuser Gallery space became available, he actually reached out to me and said, “I have the perfect spot for you to try your first gallery.”
Stevens: I joke — I’ve said this before — but I “blame” my parents. I use that term loosely and with a lot of love. They always had artwork in the house, salon style. My mom has passed but my dad still lives in the same house I grew up in, and it’s still just floor-to-ceiling artwork. I was just always surrounded by it. And my first internship was actually at a gallery. I was still in high school, and it was a gallery down under the bridge, Max Art, a million years ago. I just loved it. And then in college I thought I was going to do international affairs because I love languages. I stumbled on — you know how everybody takes that art history class? I loved it because it encompasses everything that I wanted to learn, because I love culture and languages and history and philosophy and art. ... I always wanted to have my own gallery, always wanted to have my own space, and some family stuff brought me back to Colorado and I was like, “You know what? I’m going to do this. I’m going to make this happen.” So my little small space — 100 square feet, but here I am.
How is the creative community in Colorado Springs different from other places you’ve lived?
Kreuser: I personally feel like our creative sector is absolutely amazing. And I know a lot of people don’t agree; a lot of people think it’s getting better; a lot of people think it has a long ways to go. But I grew up here and I’ve watched where it’s come, and we have so many resources. So when people [say], “There’s nothing going on in arts and culture.” It’s like, you can look in the Independent, you can go to peakradar.com, and it is full of things to do. There is not anything lacking. During COVID, yes, it’s harder with the performing arts. But we have such a strong community of artists and art supporters here.
Stevens: We [the arts community] really rally together. People lift each other up and, you know, we really take care of each other — artists, collectors, people coming to look, you know? I tell people you don’t have to buy; I want you to come look! This takes a lot of work to put all this together, the artists and myself. And just to have eyes on it is especially nice, too. It’s a very supportive community, a tight knit community. Everybody is so supportive of one another. Everybody feels like family. You know? It is all about community, and I love that about Colorado Springs.
So tell us about this new venture of yours.
Kreuser: It’s nothing that neither of us haven’t been doing for years. But again, through COVID, we just bounce so many ideas off of each other and we are each other’s support system, because it’s only us at our galleries, and everything we do, it’s just us doing it. And so we actually got hired by the same woman to come hang a piece, one she purchased from Kreuser Gallery, and one from G44. And she asked us how to hang it, and the next day we were like; why don’t we do this together?
Stevens: This is a great way to pool our resources. You know, we represent some similar artists, some very different artists. It is just nice to — we can bring our client or collector that much more artwork and options. And we have similar tastes but different styles in curation, so we bring that to the table, too. So it’s been a lot of fun, and I couldn’t ask for a better partner.