It’s not uncommon to hear locals reminisce about Park City’s early days — “it’s grown so much” or “it’s changed” — but not many people can say they remember Park City in the ‘60s. Susan Meyer is one of those people.
Susan came to Park City in 1965 after her parents bought the First National Bank and turned it into Park City’s first art gallery: Meyer Gallery. Susan was 4 years old at the time. And while her parents made a name for themselves in the burgeoning ski town (Park City Mountain Resort, then Treasure Mountain, had opened two years prior), Susan and her brother Dirk went off on their own adventures.
“We ran up and down Main Street and explored the hillside. We explored abandoned buildings and went into old mines. It was a different time back then,” she laughs. The duo walked through abandoned miner cabins — many of which were insulated with Chinese or Russian newspapers — and when their father found an abandoned school desk, Susan and Dirk started selling iron ore in front of the gallery.
When Susan wasn’t out exploring the mountains, she was tagging along with her parents on artist visits and art buying trips. “I grew up going to artist studios and my folks used to sell Native American pottery and rugs, so we spent a lot of time going to the reservation,” she remembers. “The whole experience of growing up and watching them do very hands-on curation was really rich. There was a passion and love that my parents passed on to both my brother and I.”
Susan lived in New York and ran her own catering business for around 10 years, but when her parents started talking about retirement, she moved back to Park City. “I always knew I was going to come back, but I didn’t know when. When they started talking about wanting to retire, I knew it was time and I’ve never looked back.”
When Susan took over the gallery — which leaned toward Western and Native American art — she made a point to put her own spin on things. “The direction I led the gallery in was a bit more contemporary and modern. I still have a love of the old Western and wildlife art, but it isn’t as organic for me to go in that direction. That flavor of the gallery would not be me.
However, Susan made a point to continue her parents’ method of working with artists. “As an art dealer, if you don’t really care and understand and like working with artists then I don’t know if you should be in the business. They give me the inspiration and impetus to do the shows and build the energy and excitement.”
Even today, Susan will jump in her “art van” to pick-up art and visit artists in-person. At the time of writing, 39 of the 44 artists represented at Meyer Gallery are from Utah or states that touch Utah. Susan believes that “it’s fun for collectors to see the strong art from the region that they are visiting. In many cases, this is the only place where they can find a particular artist’s work. That inherently makes the visitor experience unique.”
As for how Park City has evolved since Meyer Gallery first opened, Susan says that for starters, it went from being the city’s only gallery to being one of more than 25. As Park City has grown, she notes that “there’s lots of hustle and bustle outside the door” but that “we find a great deal of enjoyment in opening the gallery door and listening to it all.” The music venue O.P. Rockwell is directly across the street, and the gallery’s Main Street location ensures they don’t miss a beat — from live music reverberating onto the street to the weather rumbling over the mountains.