Author: Pat McNamara. Reprinted by permission of the Patagonia Regional Times.
It’s the 30th anniversary of the opening of Global Arts Gallery in Patagonia and owner Adrienne Halpert sat before her large inventory of colorful items from all over the world, recalling her motivation for opening the store back in 1994.
“I wanted to simplify my life,” Halpert says. “I had no intention of getting into retail, but here I am.”
A New York native who moved to Tucson in 1974, Halpert has been an active participant in the arts for her entire adult life. As a young and ambitious artist, she found work as an arts administrator in Tucson, as well as managing Hotel Congress for five years through its transition in the 1980s.
In the early 1990s, The Museum of the Horse building on McKeown had been sold and the new owners were looking for occupants to lease it. Halpert was part of a group of artists and musicians who banded together to form an LLC collective to lease the space. They called it ‘A Horse of a Different Color’ to honor the history of the building. It was a large space and each artist used a part of the area for their particular expertise. At that point, Halpert was a jewelry maker who was still commuting to Tucson for her part-time work there. As time went on, it became apparent that a choice had to be made, so she bought a house, built in 1898, and became a full-time Patagonia resident. The house needed an incredible amount of renovation that Halpert “had the time but not the money for” to fix but that “wove the fabric” of her life not planned.
As the other occupants of the former Museum of the Horse building began to transition and move out, Halpert was left with a lot of space to fill, so she began to turn it into retail space. Today, she obtains her items from “around the corner and around the world.” Though most of her inventory belongs to her business, she does have a few artists who display their creations for sale there on commission. Halpert offers items from Fair Trade organizations as well as other importers.
Much of the clothing comes from a fashion house in San Francisco called ‘Cut Loose’ who has outfitted her clothing space with last season’s items that didn’t sell there.
Jessica Cobb works with Halpert in the business as a “joyful collaboration” between two friends, assisting customers as they pore over the many unusual offerings at the store. “Something magical happens with customers as they check out their purchases behind the counter and connect with the lives of those people from all over the globe,” Cobb said.
When asked about the changes in Patagonia over the years, Halpert stated that metaphorically, “They’ve paved paradise and put in a parking lot” as the Joni Mitchell song goes. Halpert is passionate about the future of Patagonia. “I am concerned about protecting the mushrooms that grow beneath the earth near the mines, the environment and quality of our lives here from below the mantle to the atmosphere above,” she said. She wants to share a positive influence as much as possible and is active with PARA, Voices from the Border and the Patagonia Arts Center. She shares a “cellular connection” with the local art scene, noting “how valuable the arts are for the young people to be exposed to their own creativity.”
When asked where she sees herself in ten years, Halpert stated, “Hopefully above ground with one glorious moment sidled up to another. To be unplanned and grateful. I treasure the many people who have come through and told me about their lives. It’s my ‘store-y’.”