Monday, August 11, 2008

Garman offers gallery closure details

“I never had any idea it would get this far,” sculptor Michael Garman said, “I guess that’s why it got this far.”

Garman, 70, flew into Colorado Springs on Monday for a press conference making official what fans of his work have been talking about for a week: Michael Garman Productions will stop making reproductions of Garman’s sculptures this winter and the gallery in Old Colorado City will close once the remaining inventory is sold — probably in spring or early summer 2009.

Garman said his health is the problem. He was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and doctors have only given him a couple years to live. It’s time, he said, to focus on other things.

“It’s too personal a business for me to sell it,” he said.

His son, Michael P. Garman, ran the business for five years and had planned to take it over, but he decided to strike out on his own, Garman said.

“I’m not a good manager,” Garman said. “He doesn’t want to manage. Hell of a good sculptor, though. He’s decided to go out on his own now, find his own place.”

His daughter Vanessa Garman will run the business until the end. The company’s 15 employees should stay on until the business wraps up, she said.

“We’re going to need everybody until the end,” she said.

The big question is what happens to Magic Town, Garman’s series of street scenes that have become a tourist attraction. Magic Town could be sold and moved, or it could stay put and be run by whoever buys the gallery building.

“The last thing we would want is for it to end up in storage,” Vanessa Garman said.

Losing the gallery will be a blow to Old Colorado City, said Jim Heikes, owner of Thunder Mountain Trading Company and president of Old Colorado City Associates.

“It’s really a sad thing,” he said. “He has been a cornerstone for years and years and years. It will be a tremendous loss.”

Because of his health, Garman is trying to limit the time he spends in the thin air of Colorado Springs. He plans to return Sept. 6 and 7 and Nov. 22 and 23 to appear at the gallery and sign his work for fans.

Garman doesn’t plan to sell any new works, but said he won’t stop sculpting.

“It’s been everything to me,” he said, brushing back tears.

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