NORTH SALT LAKE When asked to name a city known for its art galleries, few people would list North Salt Lake.
But if father-and-son business owners Tom and Tom Jensen have anything to say about it, North Salt Lake will be known locally for at least one quality gallery.
"My son and I have collected art off and on for about 30 years, and it's just been kind of a hobby," said the father in this team (or, as he put it, "the old one").
"Last year, we just decided to open a gallery of our own."
The elder Jensen said he decided to help open the gallery after retiring from the travel business.
"I did a lot of traveling in my other business, and I wanted to cut down on that," he said.
The two collectors also were encouraged to start because the senior Jensen's brother-in-law is watercolor artist Osral Allred.
"He teaches some workshops here in the gallery, and we have another prominent artist who also teaches here in the gallery. He's also a retired art professor, Carl Purcell," Jensen said. "They both teach workshops in here, and when we do that, we have about 20 students that are pretty advanced come from around the country."
But the Jensens' business, Thomas Fine Art at 60 S. Orchard Drive, is not just a classroom. Jensen said the gallery includes everything from European oil paintings to watercolors by area artists.
"We have about 20 Utah artists in here that we represent, and they have wonderful paintings," he said. "We have probably around 300 original oil and watercolor paintings. We get more in every week. We just had one, a beautiful one, come in last week from Russia, and we bought one yesterday in Europe, too, that we're bringing over."
The gallery's customers are as diverse as its offerings.
"A lot of (customers) are personal acquaintances that we have known in our lives. . . . And a lot of times some of these people up here have built these new homes and have big walls in them and want new paintings for their homes," Jensen said. "Others are art collectors who have heard . . . we have some of these early Utah painters that are very valuable."
And although the business is not yet a year old the Jensens started it last August the father in the duo is cautiously optimistic that it will be successful.
"We're real positive about it," he said. "This is a little different business than a lot of businesses . . . and the first year we haven't had to depend on income from it. We've made money, but we've had other sources of income, so we're pretty stable."
Despite the challenges of owning a business, Jensen said it has its rewards."It's just fun to be here in the gallery for one thing," he said. "The people that are looking for art are usually very wonderful people that you meet. It's a real pleasant business to be in. There's nothing high-pressure. It's what appeals to the people and what they're looking for for their homes."
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