To Trifecta, with love: A farewell letter as the Arts District stronghold closes shop

Trifecta Gallery owner Marty Walsh and her dog Spud
Photo: Adam Shane

Dear Marty Walsh,

Angela Kallus’ “Equestrian Portrait #2”

The sock otter got to me, with his mouthless smirk, sea-captain threads and jaunty posture as he pulled a sick wheelie on a roller skate, cutesy innocence jarred by comically sexual allusion. I had no idea what artist Angela Kallus intended when her pencil made him live. I just knew I wanted to see him again.

But I didn’t have $400 to spend on something so ... extra. I’m sure you’ve heard that a million times. For every hardcore collector investing thousands in works that seem essential, there are legions who can’t reconcile any cost, or aren’t even comfortable enjoying art in a gallery setting. It can feel very stiff. Silent. Like the art almost shouldn’t be looked at if you don’t have the intellectual goods.

Trifecta was the opposite for me. Your space was warm and real, with Spud in his smart little dog tie and the colorful range of work, from Sam Davis’ sad-eyed stewardesses to Casey Weldon’s mutant cats. I picked up a kitschy bulldog sculpture by Miguel Rodriguez for $100, and a set of $12 domino Bots programmed by artist Gary Hirsch to lull me to sleep and make me brave and love me. I was always stoked to find something I could squeeze into my budget, but Kallus’ “Equestrian Portrait #2” felt out of reach. Until you said I could pay it off slowly, whenever and whatever I could afford.

One of Gary Hirsch's domino bots

October 4, 2012, I made my $50 down payment. Last week, with just days left before you and Spud and your husband Pete would close the gallery to move back to Ireland, I paid it off. There was no contract. You never hounded me, despite how rarely I stopped by to trickle in money (twice). And on the last possible day, with the gallery stripped down to its bones, Pete was expecting me because you convinced him that I would show up. This random girl who came in a few times.

I wish you’d been there to see the drawing finally pass into my hands. No doubt you’ve got a lot to do, packing and prepping for Late Until Eight, a last goodbye to artists and art lovers who’ve watched Trifecta become a force over the past 10 years and appreciated the evocative, beautifully wrought visions it shared. I’m probably the last person you’ll remember, but I will remember you. Every time I meet the otter’s mysterious plastic stare. You made it possible for me to buy a real piece of art, because you saw the look in my eyes and wanted me to have it. Trifecta was a business. But I, for one, am grateful you didn’t always run it that way.

  • The sex educator and owner of Detroit's Spectrum boutique brings her humor and expertise to AVN.

  • “Compared to my Ohio life, people are more positive here, more responsive to literary things.”

  • “We break down all the barriers that led them to become homeless, so they can become self-sufficient and sustain on their own.”

  • Get More As We See It Stories
Top of Story