Ari Myers is not afraid to strike out on her own.
After a position at Kasmin and then five years working as a curator and art adviser in Denver, in 2020, Myers moved to Taos, New Mexico. With a few thousand dollars she’d saved, she decided to open a gallery. Thus, The Valley was born, a contemporary art space focused on celebrating unique artistic voices.
Her big bet seems to have paid off. In just a few years, the gallery has become one of the leading cultural voices in the state. Now, this month, The Valley is expanding into a new space—a century-old adobe building—which will be inaugurated by an exhibition of works by Aron John Dubois, opening September 23. Dubois, who is the first artist the gallery represented, is a well-known tattoo artist in New Mexico, whose works also include drawings, paintings, and ceramics. (Today, The Valley represents six sought-after contemporary artists).
When Myers isn’t working to bring her gallery vision to life, she celebrates life in New Mexico, riding her beloved horse, Cowboy, or driving through the state in her 1988 4Runner.
On the cusp of the inaugural exhibition in the new space, we caught up with Myers and asked her what she values in art and life—and why.
What is the last thing that you splurged on?
A Ysidro ring and Lucky ring from MAIDA, designed by my friend Maida Branch and made by silversmith Gino Antonio on Navajo Nation. I bought one, and then the other a few weeks later. They’ve become part of me, I almost never take them off.
What is something that you’re saving up for?
The ongoing project of restoring the 100-year-old adobe building that we just moved the gallery to.
What would you buy if you found $100?
What makes you feel like a million bucks?
Hot springs, saunas, steams, hammams. I have a favorite spot in every place I travel frequently. It really feels like a luxury to take some time for a soak while traveling.
What do you think is your greatest asset?
Perseverance, or just plain stubbornness. Also my biggest weakness. It’s very Taurean.
What do you most value in a work of art?
Connection to spirit.
Who is an emerging artist worthy of everyone’s attention?
Aron John Dubois. He’s one of the artists that I started The Valley for. His second solo exhibition will be our opening show in the new space. He primarily makes paintings on handmade paper which explore the enigma of nature, spirituality, and corporeality. Amelia Lockwood, too. We’re showing her celestial and architectural ceramic sculptures at NADA Miami this year. And Sarah M. Rodriguez, who makes sculptures that engage non-human life forms as collaborators. Her first solo with the gallery is in November and she is in a beautiful two-person pairing at Tara Downs in October. The Valley represents six artists, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you to check out the other three as well—Sarah Esme Harrison, Sophia Heymans, and Fernanda Mello.
Who is an overlooked artist who hasn’t yet gotten their due?
The Russian symbolist painter Mikhail Vrubel has always been one of my favorite artists, but he isn’t really a part of the Western canon. With the growing interest in art practices that engage with mysticism, I think everyone should know about him.
What, in your estimation, is the most overrated thing in the art world?
The idea that artworks have to be expensive to be good. There was a quote I read recently in an interview with a gallerist that stuck with me. They said that it’s “not easy to find a good work of art under $10,000” these days. I could not disagree more. Everyone starts somewhere, particularly outside of major metropolitan areas, and there are many ways to structure an early career artist’s pricing to build a supportive market for them.
What is your most treasured possession?
My 1988 4Runner.
What’s been your best investment?
Other than starting the gallery with a few thousand dollars I saved from unemployment…probably my horse, Cowboy.
What is something small that means the world to you?
A thoughtful gift, given or received.
What’s not worth the hype?
Owning and wearing workwear that never gets dirty.
What do you believe is a worthy cause?
Honoring Indigenous people’s sovereignty over and continued stewardship of the lands we occupy.
What do you aspire to?
I aspire to be a good representative of New Mexico and the Southwestern United States in the art world and to be a good member of my community here in Taos.