Maggie, Marty Fill Fine Art Niche



It's arguably the most unique art gallery in Payson, but its doorbell takes the prize.

That's Maggie, an 8-pound Papillon who greets every customer at the front door.


Marty Gunion, with her 8-pound Papillon, Maggie, who greets every customer at the front door.

"I may joke about Maggie being my doorbell, but she truly is," Marty Gunion, owner of Marty G Interiors and Fine Art Gallery said. "I lost my hearing on an airplane two years ago and I wear a hearing aid.

"When someone comes to the front door of the gallery, I can't hear them. She stops barking once they come in the door, unless they have a hat on."

Maggie sets the tone for the Marty G experience.

"My five categories are (printed) on the window: contemporary, colorful, whimsical, unique, one-of-a-kind," Gunion said. "I'm leaving all the Southwestern, Indian and cowboy art to those that are already here -- unless it fits one of those extreme categories."


"How do you display art in a kitchen?" Marty Gunion, owner of Marty G's asked. The answer was, "You sell food" -- Trader Joe's and AJ's-type foods.

Marty Gs features the work of 32 artists from as far away as Australia, plus a growing selection of gifts and specialty foods. It's located at 404 S. Beeline Highway in what was once a model home.

"We started out with the idea of it being a fine art gallery, and I'd just bring my interior design business up and one would carry the other," Gunion said. "But fine art is not highly sought in Payson, so we expanded very quickly into gifts and other items. I have things in here from $10 to $1200."

The idea of adding specialty foods evolved from the gallery being house in a previous incarnation.

How do you display art in a kitchen?" Gunion asked. "You sell food. So we took the cabinet doors off and I'm looking to expand the line with Trader Joe's and AJ's type foods.

"In fact I talked to (Trader Joe's) yesterday, and some of the things they sell I can buy wholesale, but a lot of their special labels we can't. The reason they won't open stores here, in Flagstaff and in Prescott is because the shipping is too much to keep the prices low."

Unique ingredients, like pumpkin-flavored pancake and waffle mixes, and infused olive oil in colorful designer bottles, have made it into her display.

"We carry unusual smaller items," Gunion said. "We don't want to become a grocery store, but what the heck -- if you can't find some of these things up here then people go to the Valley to get them."

The former master bedroom at Marty Gs is now Gunion's own studio.

"I'm a fiber artist -- that's anybody who works with textiles, fabrics, yarns," she said. "Most of my pieces are commercial or large pieces for large-ceilinged homes."

Gunion also makes custom bedding, bedspreads, pillows and window treatments, and that's where her careers as an interior designer and as an artist begin to blend.

"I do everything from remodels to just helping somebody hang their artwork," she said. "I'll put my jeans on, take my hammer, and go hang artwork for an afternoon. I can do blueprints. I've done (everything from) full homes to 60,000-square-foot buildings."

Marty Gs opened Sept. 1. Gunion and her husband, Jack, moved to Payson just six weeks earlier.

"It was one of those whims," she said. "Jack left the job he had, and decided to start traveling and doing consulting for small businesses. I said, ‘If you're going to travel then you can come home to me where it's cooler.'"

"So he said, ‘What do you want to do if we move to Payson?' I said, ‘Well, I'll continue the design work because I already have a couple clients up here, and I'd also like to open an art gallery.'"

They put their Scottsdale home on the market, and when it sold the first day, they had to "scurry up here and find a house."

That, of course, took a little time, so they ended up living in the model home for six weeks. When they finally moved into their new house, they ended up leaving lots of furniture in the model home to be used in the gallery.

"We bought a small, two-bedroom house up here, so we tried to use as much of our furniture as we could in the gallery," she said as she walked into the "dining room."

"This, for example, was my dining room table," she said. "Since I don't cook, we don't miss it. So we really tried to open on a song and a prayer."

Gunion grew up in Kansas City, Mo. She taught high school home economics and family relations for 10 years in Kansas City and Dallas.

Eventually, she went into pharmaceutical sales and was managing a medical practice in Kansas City when she met Jack. They moved to the Valley 10 years ago.

Gunion minored in art and had taken art and design courses. She went into the interior design and art business to put her daughter through college.

Marty Gs is not only her most ambitious venture to date, but also, in a sense, a fusion of the things that matter most to her. She has ambitious plans, including monthly events that "promote the fun and excitement of art" as well as evening affairs that showcase different artists.

So far she's held a juried pumpkin carving competition, and a wine and design event featuring jewelry and clothing. Eventually she hopes to stage farmer's and art markets in her parking lot, envisioning a day when the galleries in Payson will join together to stage art walks and gallery openings.

She would even like to see her wrap-around porch become a gathering place where people come to "sit and chat about the weather, the traffic, or who's the best artist in town."

But she's also realistic.

"I would like to think the interior design is going to carry the gallery so that the local artists who don't fit into some of the other galleries will have a place to show their work," she said. "I do not believe I would make it if I was solely a gallery."


Name: Marty Gunion

Occupation: Artist/Interior Designer

Employer: Myself

Age: 52

Birthplace: Kansas City, Mo.

Family: Melanie, 23-year-old daughter; Jack, 61-year-old husband; Amy, 31-year-old step-daughter; John, 35-year-old step-son; mother, father, brother and his wife and three nephews.

Personal Motto: "She who says it can't be done is interrupted by she who is doing it." This is on a worn-out piece of paper taped to the laptop I've had since 1985. Prior to that I followed, "Above all else, I will succeed."

Inspiration: My grandmother, who retired from a position in management in 1968 from Luzier in Kansas City. She raised an only daughter like I did. My mother: today, at 75, she's ranked sixth in the nation in her age group playing 4.0 tennis. My daughter, an independent, responsible young woman attending law school and making her way in life without letting obstacles frighten her.

Greatest feat: Staying alive and surviving when faced with adversity in life, as with many people in the world.

Favorite hobby or leisure activity: "Creating anything -- sewing, gardening, artwork, a client's home, etc.

Three words that describe me best: Spiritual, perceptive, creative.

I don't want to brag but ... I have overcome numerous obstacles in my life, including dyslexia. I raised a super daughter on my own following a divorce when she was one-and-a-half. I'm blessed to be able to work in a field doing what I love most -- being creative.

Person in history I'd most like to meet: Katherine Hepburn

Luxury defined: An uninterrupted bubble bath.

Dream vacation spot: Either La Jolla, Calif., or snowy mountains.

Why Payson? I love the mountains and four seasons. After living in the Valley 10 years, I couldn't take the heat any longer. I was here working with a client on my birthday last year and when it snowed I knew I had to live here.

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