The Rising Tide

Posted on March 9, 2017

Art gallery owner Elliott Fouts foresees a rise in walk-in traffic, despite his location some distance from Golden 1 Center.

Michelle Satterlee
Michelle Satterlee Photography by Tyler & Christina

Elliott Fouts owns a self-named art gallery on the corner of 19th and P streets, seemingly more than a stone’s throw from the expected action of downtown once Golden 1 Center and Downtown Commons open for business.

He’s not concerned—partly because he’s within the sphere of the nicely developing R Street Corridor, partly because he’s expecting an uptick in walk-in traffic simply because people heading downtown will perhaps “make a day or evening out of it” and stroll into his gallery.

Fouts, 61, has had his 5,600-square-foot gallery at this location for four years. His previous, also eponymous, galleries were in Granite Bay (for five years); and at 48th and J streets in East Sacramento (seven years). “I actually don’t have more space in this gallery than I had in the others. But what I have is more wall space, which allows me to hang the paintings and (display) sculptures so that you can actually step back and look at them.”

The gallery itself is a marvel of movable walls, bright but not overpowering lighting and an eclectic mixture of artists, young and older. (Young: Micah Crandall-Bear. Older: Roland Petersen, whose paintings were the subject of a show late last spring to celebrate his 90th birthday.)

Fouts has seen the audiences for his galleries evolve over the years. “A buyer in Granite Bay doesn’t necessarily collect the same things as someone who lives in East Sac or Land Park or downtown,” he says. He also thinks his stepdaughter and gallery director, Michelle Satterlee, who’s in her late 20s, “has brought new artists and new customers here. She has her own vision of what works and doesn’t work, and it’s very refreshing.”

He says that audiences for his gallery also change “when artists I’ve been showing simply ‘max out’ of the market. They’ve sold as much as they can here, at least for a while, and they either start painting other things or find another gallery to represent them, in a different geographic area.” The art market, he says, “is anything but stagnant.”

Fouts says he thinks the reason people seem to like this gallery more than his previous ones—he also spent 11 years working for the late Tower Gallery—is that it’s just more convenient to get here. “You’re just one off-ramp and a quick jump away.”

That would also describe his and Satterlee’s respective commutes. Neither lives in midtown, where the gallery is situated. Fouts and his wife, Sherry Ngai—who owns the hair-styling salon Shapes, at Alhambra and J streets—live in Sacramento’s Pocket Area. Satterlee has a place in East Sacramento.

“I think what people do now in regards to my gallery will only increase,” Fouts says. “They already stop here on the way to events at the convention center or dinner, so I’m guessing that when there are more events and more restaurants, there’ll be more people dropping by.” He grins. “At least, that’s the hope.”