Serving the High Plains

Market Gallery opens in downtown

One section of the newly opened Market Gallery in downtown Tucumcari will serve as a community art space for local talent, and Flourishing Desert Creations in that space serves as the fulfillment of a dream.

The Market Gallery, housed in the former Jackalope Coffee Haus and Smoothie Bar space at 211 S. Second St., held its soft opening last Tuesday.

Nathan Krekula, owner of The Market Gallery, said he heard from Jackalope owner Annie McCauley she was consolidating the coffee shop into her Blanco Creek Boutique store a few doors down and thought the space would be good for a gallery.

Krekula, a traveling medical consultant, said his father was a cartoonist. But Krekula put down his drawing pens and pencils when he went into the army as a flight medic.

He began drawing again a few years ago, then drew more during the COVID-19 pandemic "because there was nothing to do."

Krekula's art medium is digital painting, with capabilities of animation and video. Several of his paintings are on display at the store.

He showed digital paintings he created for the relatives and charities of the late Chris Kyle, made famous for the "American Sniper" book and movie. Krekula said he befriended Kyle when they were in the Army. Kyle and a friend were slain by a mentally ill veteran in Texas in 2013.

Krekula said he wanted local artists, including Mesalands Community College students, to display and sell their work at The Market Gallery.

"We want to create a section for community art," he said. "We want to be an outlet for people. Maybe we'll do shows and have little wine tastings."

Krekula said he was aware the Masonic building once housed The Gallery Etc., a community art gallery for 15 years that closed in 2020 due to financial difficulties caused by the pandemic.

Part of the space is set aside for Tracy Fragale's Flourishing Desert Creations, which offers handmade skincare products and salves, laundry soaps, cleaners, tone oils, beard oils, hairpins, teas and olive oils. It also sells crocheted items from Fragale's mother in the Cozy Crochet Corner.

Fragile said she always wanted to open a store where she could sell her products.

"For years and years, I let it go and wanted to only provide for my family," she said. "The opportunity came up for Nathan to open the gallery here, and it had a back room where I could make my products.

"My family encouraged me: 'This is something you've wanted to do forever. Why don't you start making it and selling it to the public?' I said I'd try it, and here we are today."

She said she learned about the business opportunity only about six weeks ago. She said it's been "a learning experience" to get the shop open.

"There's a lot of work to open a business," she said. "I wasn't expecting all the hoops I had to jump through."

Like Krekula, Fragale said she would be open for other to sell their products, as well.

"I would like to see more people's things come in here that they can sell and it be an actual community market," she said. "We're so much more than a gallery."

The Market Gallery's hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.