Blair Vaughn-Gruler of GVG Contemporary Interviewed by Voyage ATL

Today we’d like to introduce you to Blair Vaughn-Gruler.

Blair, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I am a painter and my husband, Ernst Gruler, is also an artist. We had been living in Sedona, Arizona and making most of our living through selling our artwork and real estate projects when 2008 happened. The galleries that were representing us started to close, and of course, the real estate market changed dramatically. We decided to move to Santa Fe, New Mexico and open our own art gallery.

This was not completely out of left field: we had had a successful retail venture for 12 years in the boutique business, so knew something about retail, we had art inventory of our own, and knew a plethora of professional artists to possibly represent, and I was in graduate school in a low residency, research-based MFA program that had me deeply immersed in the art world on many levels.

That was almost 10 years ago. Our gallery, GVG Contemporary, is thriving and we have built solid reputations for ourselves as artists and for the other artists, we represent. We are considered one of the best contemporary galleries in this city of over 200 galleries, which is humbling and also a testament to believing in yourself, staying the course and hard work! Our collectors are from all over the country – including many in Atlanta – and also from around the globe.

Of course, there was a certain amount of – shall we say “discomfort” involved in diving into a new business in a new city as the bank accounts dwindled and the stakes kept getting higher. Did I mention that our 2 sons were also in college and grad school at the time?

With nowhere to go but up, we developed a vision and have watched it manifest. My own work has continued to develop and gain more presence in the art world. While the retail sales of my paintings are gratifying, the best part is growing as an artist and having the opportunity to be immersed in a meaningful art practice.

My husband Ernst has had a similar experience with his own work, and those 2 sons, both also artists, have made their homes in Santa Fe as well, Both of them have been founding members of the artist collective known as Meow Wolf, which has taken the art world by storm

Out of a scary time came a wonderful future. We re grateful we took the leap.

Has it been a smooth road?
The first summer we opened our gallery, we were just about out of money. I was flying out to the summer residency for my grad school program and had no funds to get back at the end, 2 weeks later. The day my husband had a $5,000 art sale about halfway through the residency meant I could return home after all. It was an incredible relief – and an affirmation that we were going in the right direction after all.

From there, the emotional and financial roller coaster ride continued for several years as the economy struggled and we worked to build a new business within it. Each sale, no matter how small, usually meant we could get groceries. Many, many months we pulled off paying our rents by making a sale on the last day of the month, like some kind of miracle.

And then slowly, about 5 years in, we started to see sales numbers that were more predictable. Repeat collectors, new opportunities to show our work and good employees have helped to smooth out the roller coaster.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with GVG Contemporary – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
We are a contemporary, artist-owned art gallery in a city with over 200 galleries – the 3rd largest art market in the US.

I am quite proud of being able to maintain the title of an artist owned gallery because it is really 2 full-time jobs (artist and gallerist).

We specialize in paintings, sculpture, fine art furniture and jewelry by mid-career and emerging artists. The paintings we show are predominately non-objective (abstract), and all the work is material forward.

I am also proud of our customer service, and consider the gallery to also be an educational venue. Gallery owners and staff always work to help people understand the art world – especially in terms of contemporary art – all day every day.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
Santa Fe is a wonderful artist community.


  • Artwork available at GVG Contemporary ranges from $100 to $30,000

Contact Info:

  • Address: 241 Delgado Street
    Santa Fe, NM 87501
  • Website:
  • Phone: 505-982-1494
  • Email:
  • Instagram: @gvgcontemporary
  • Facebook: gvgcontemporary

Voyage ATL is a blog specializing in local creatives and artists in the Atlanta, Georgia area.

GVG Studio Tour: Jeffie Brewer Artist Interview


Jeffie Brewer | 2017 | sculptures from left to right | Yellow Bunny | Yes! | Orange Kitty | With Friends Like This | Giraffe Monster (all available at GVG Contemporary)


“I make things. I show people how to make things. I have an insatiable desire to create, to explore, to understand. I work with my hands. I work with my head.”  –Jeffie Brewer

Jeffie Brewer grew up in a small, rural town in East Texas. The son of eccentric junk yard owners, he learned to spot beauty in the mundane, developed an array of industrial skills and discovered he had a knack for drawing. Those early revelations have influenced his artistic trajectory ever since. Recently, I had the pleasure of conducting an interview over email to get to know about the artist behind the Kitties, Bunnies, Robots, Clouds, and Monsters that grace GVG’s sculpture gardens.


Enamel over steel sculptures from left to right | Red Bird | Junkyard Cloud | Yellow Bunny | Blue Kitty | Red Monster | various sizes | 2017


Renee – How about your share a formative experience from your early life as an artist.

Jeffie – I grew up in a smallish town in Texas, the son of a junk man. Across the highway from the junkyard was an old gas station. The gas station had candy. On occasion, I could coax money from my dad who was affectionately known as “Crazy Ray,” and make the harrowing journey to the wax lips, chico sticks or whatever other weird 1970’s candy was available.

In this specific summer day memory, Palestine, Texas was as hot, dry and dusty as one can imagine. Being made up of 99% sweet tooth I could hear the siren song of cokes and candies. After procurement of money and blessing to cross highway 79, I embarked on my heroes quest.

As I stared out across the dusty highway dark clouds filled the sky and it started to rain. I could see the line of rain come into view, engulf the station and then stop midway between me and the candy. The rain lasted just a moment and then just stopped leaving a perfect line between me and the store. I was transfixed. Where I was going was washed clean and new, where I stood dusty and unchanged.

I pinpoint this moment as maybe my first aesthetic moment. I was overwhelmed with emotion and wonder, every time I recount this story it gets me. I try to see beauty – it’s my job.

from left to right: PoP, Junkyard PoP, ‘esprit-d’escalier, and Blue Bird | enamel over steel | various sizes


Renee – What is your preferred media and why?

Jeffie – Pastels – I can work fast and intuitively, building a drawing quickly. The drawings are where the sculpture comes from. The drawings are free and joy-filled play. Steel is up there but steel is hard work and we have a love-hate relationship with hard work.

Renee – Describe a typical studio day for you.

Jeffie – Wake, panic. That’s the only constant.

There is no typical, every day is an adventure. I teach so I’m floating back and forth from selfish to selfless all the time. On the non-teaching days, I have the best intentions to hit the studio early and draw a bit, then get my assistant going once he arrives, then on to welding and grinding or bending. If it’s too hot or cold in the afternoon I do computer design, proposals or things like this. On teaching days I sneak in work at school or sometimes draw alongside students. I do half days at the university two days a week so it’s a delicate dance. I think it’s great for my students to see that I’m an active working artist and not just a stuffy academic blowhard. Lead by example.

But as I said there is no typical – it’s an adventure.

Jeffie Brewer | Drawn Flowers | enamel over steel | various sizes


Renee – What is the most indispensable item in your studio?

Jeffie – My assistant. If I need someone to grind (the most boring thing all day…) he’s got it. Indispensable.

Renee – How has your practice changed over time?

Jeffie – It’s always in flux. It goes from work to fun back to work in a day. 25 years ago it started as play then morphed into work… all work, so much so I stopped making “art” for a few years. In the past 7-8 years, it has merged into both. In these recent years with commercial success and seeing the public works out in the world mixed with making work that is fun and accessible… redemption.

Renee – What do you listen to when you’re working?

Jeffie – Crippling self-doubt… no. Dogs barking? Grinders? A shuffling mix of the most eclectic music ever. Right now there is a sassy flamenco song playing –  I’ll come back when the next song drops… Lionel Richie, Three Times a Lady (wow)- Peaches, Boys Wanna Be Her- something from Rachmaninov (it was long)- Ted Hawkins, Green-eyed Girl – Mike Snow- Merle Haggard, Kendrick Lamar, Adam Green, the Bear Necessities from the Jungle Book… I couldn’t make this up. You get the point. I’m all over the place.

Renee – Name three career milestones that you’ve hit so far.

Jeffie – Commercial success, fame and fortune seem like the right answers but I think I’ve had fun, I’ve led a creative life, and I’ve shared that life through teaching for 20 years. That seems more sincere.

Renee – One more question, what are three artistic goals that you hold yourself to for the future?

Jeffie – Make it bigger, dumber and better as far as the work goes… International, another residency, and more public art.

“We are given a brief amount of time together. As an artist, I consider it a gift to be able to share my vision and experience. Sometimes it’s serious, sometimes it’s thoughtful and a lot of the time it’s just silly.” –Jeffie Brewer

Jeff earned an MFA in sculpture and metals and an MA in sculpture and painting from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, where he currently serves as Assistant Professor of Sculpture.

To read more about GVG’s artists through the GVG Studio Tour Series, click here.

All interviews have been conducted by Renee Lauzon, Gallery Manager at GVG Contemporary. If you have any questions you can email Renee at

To see more of Jeffie’s work, stop by GVG Contemporary @ 241 Delgado Street in Santa Fe, NM, or visit his online gallery page, by clicking here.

GVG Studio Tour: Elle MacLaren

Elle MacLaren in her studio with several works in progress, 2017


I visited Elle MacLaren in her Santa Fe studio to see her new encaustic paintings and get to know a little bit more about the artist who makes them.

Elle MacLaren’s creative process manifests as an exploration of environmental images.  Material, color, and texture are the important elements of this exploration using encaustic, metal, cement, oils, graphite and various other media.  Her work references landscapes, cityscapes, and “planetscapes”.

“I am interested in the relationship between people and natural and manmade environments. There are many layers to observing the familiar.  There is an imprint, a memory, a feeling that goes beyond observation.  The images I create aim to bring the viewer into seeing the environment on a deeper level.  It is my intention to evoke a response from the viewer that gives them a larger sense of knowing the source when looking at the familiar.”

The artist’s easel with work in progress


Renee: Tell me about a formative experience early in your life as an artist.

Elle: When I was ten years old my mother took me to an exhibit of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings at the Detroit Institute of Arts. I had been drawing with crayons and pencils ever since I could hold them.  When I looked at those oil paintings I fell in love with them, the richness and depth of color pulled me in.  I was given a set of oil paints shortly after that and have painted with oil ever since.

Renee: What is your favorite medium to work with and why?

Elle: I love paint.  I love everything about it, I even love the word itself.  I love oil paint and the way it glides onto and into the canvas with my brush.  I love mixing the colors and dipping into the paint.  I love encaustic paint and the way the melted wax flows through the brush in the truest colors I can imagine.  I love oil paint sticks for their sensual and buttery quality when applied to different surfaces.

Antarctica | encaustic on panel | 26 x 35


Renee: How has your practice changed over time?

Elle: From age 6 until about 26 my style was strictly representational, including portraits and some commercial illustration.  When I started working with mixed media I learned to play and loosen up.  The media itself was inspiring me more with imagery in the sense of using shapes and color to express myself. My work became abstract/conceptual which I find much more freeing and expressive as it allows both myself as the creator and those who view it to have a more personal experience.

Renee: What are some of your future career goals you’ve set for yourself?

Elle: I plan to continue to play and experiment – to push the limits of what medium can do. My current and future intention is  to make statements about relevant issues in the world and have as many people as possible see those issues expressed through my art, and, when viewing, respond in ways that give them a deep sense of knowing and understanding.

Elle MacLaren | Moulin I | encaustic on panel | 30 x 30


Elle holds a BFA in drawing and painting from Alma College.  She continues her ongoing experimentation with media, exploring new materials and pushing the limit of what they can do.

To read more about GVG’s artists through the GVG Studio Tour Series, click here.

All interviews have been conducted by Renee Lauzon, Gallery Manager at GVG Contemporary. If you have any questions you can email Renee at

To see more of Elle’s work, stop by GVG Contemporary @ 241 Delgado Street in Santa Fe, NM, or visit her online gallery page, by clicking here.