Rule Gallery to quit Broadway and move to RiNo

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After more than a decade on Broadway, Rule Gallery, one of the city's top contemporary art dealers, will be relocating in March to RiNo. Sky-high rents on Broadway have led owner Robin Rule to seek out a new spot for her twenty-year-old-plus business, and she apparently liked what she saw in Denver's up-and-coming art district. The new venue is to be located at 3340 Walnut Street, in the Dry Ice Factory building where the Ice Cube Gallery, an artist cooperative, is also located.

To say that many of the members of Ice Cube are ecstatic would be an understatement. One, Regina Benson, called me last week to tell me about it, and I also subsequently spoke with other Ice Cube-ers Carol Ann Waugh, Roxanne Rossi, Katie Caron and Michael Gadlin, and all were clearly excited at the prospect of having Rule as a future neighbor.

Though RiNo has been attracting art-related businesses for the past several years, Rule will be the first old-line Denver gallery to relocate to the area. (Plus, another important contemporary art outlet, has long been on the downtown edge of RiNo, but it opened originally in the district.)

Robin Rule first came onto the local art scene when she partnered with Cydney Payton to open Payton-Rule on Wazee Street back in 1990, with Robischon on one side and Sandy Carson on the other. Rule Gallery was born with the dissolution of the partnership in 1992 -- Payton had left the commercial gallery world to enter the non-profit sphere when she became the director of what was then the Boulder Art Center and which she almost immediately transformed into the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art.

In 1993, Rule relocated to the Ice House in LoDo, where she just about disappeared into the woodwork, and then, in 1996, she opened on Broadway across from the Mayan Theatre and instantly regained her high profile. In 2006, she was forced out of that space owing to a planned rehab of the historic building in which her gallery was housed -- a renovation that never happened.

She substantially remodeled her next space, at 227 Broadway, where Kim Dickey: All is Leaf is on view until Rule moves. (See my review of that exhibit in the February 24 issue.) The new space on Walnut Street, though smaller than her current digs, has certain advantages. It has high ceilings, and it's a wide rectangular space, so that viewers can stand back from paintings and other works of art to look at them -- something that is hard to do in the long and narrow hall-like facility Rule currently occupies. The structure of the new space -- just like the old one -- is urbane and industrial. It's a one-story wing off the multi-story Dry Ice Factory, and, as is the case with that handsome landmark, the brickwork and steel windows are beautiful.

Galleries are always destination businesses, so the lack of walk-in traffic in RiNo is not as big a problem as it would be with other types of retail operations. Nonetheless, the move is a risky one, since Rule will be attempting to operate a full-time art business in an area where many of the galleries, including Ice Cube, are only open on weekends. However, there is already some talk of having the co-op expand its hours from Fridays and Saturdays only, and in that way to better coincide with the Tuesday-through-Saturday schedule of the soon-to-be relocated Rule Gallery.

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