Thankfully, we don’t need to look far for artistry in the Evergreen State. Nestled on the westside of Olympia, The Artists’ Gallery is 40-year-old a gem in the upper area of Capital Mall.
A sense of centeredness around community sets the gallery apart. As a co-op of 16 local artists, the gallery is owned and operated by the artists rather than a single private owner.
“We take turns manning the gallery. We all rotate. (For comparison,) my wife and I had gone back to New York about 7 years ago. (At) most of the galleries in Chelsea you walk into, the person at the front doesn’t greet you. You just walk in and check it out. The difference in our gallery is that we are very personable,” said lifelong artist and three-year gallery member Robert Hunter.
Artists range from their mid-20s up to mid-80s, and many are retired art teachers.
Besides the tight-knit collaborative style of artists, the gallery is also committed to connecting with the surrounding community.
“I’m an arts advocate. I see the gallery’s position in relation to the Olympia community as essential. People are longing for culture and art; we fill the void. We’re one of the essential components of that. It doesn’t have to be buying something [from the gallery] but coming in to see that other humans are creating art on a daily basis. It is appreciated,” said Hunter.
Prior to COVID-19, lively events with wine tastings and live jazz performances drew crowds in.
Despite the challenges of the past year, classes and demonstrations for the public have continued online. Class offerings include jewelry-making, painting, and mixed media. A fan favorite is Susan Pavel’s class on Salish coastal weaving.
“The best example of community feedback comes from Susan Pavel’s teaching. They love her class. She is a wonderful person and that excludes in her classes. People know about her and pass along the word about her and the gallery,” said Hunter.
Throughout the bright and spacious gallery, there is something for everyone, whether it be jewelry, woodworking, paintings, ceramics, fabrics, or photographs. Various styles, such as abstract expressionism, realism, and pointillism, are showcased.
Or if visitors are simply looking for tranquility and serenity, they will find it.
Since membership typically falls between 20-30 members, the group is welcoming artists to apply to join the co-op through its juried process. Prospective artists can learn more by clicking here.