After 35 years of selling my artwork in many different ways: farmers markets, wholesale, garden stores, galleries, retail outlets, on the side of the road, fairs and more, an Artists' coop was a good fit. For six years I have participated in and been co-owner of Splash Gallery in Olympia, WA. It was a great experience. Working a coop has so many rewards they often diminish the challenges.
Splash has been in business for 7-8 years. Started by artists who had a wonderful dream, It survived the recession and the Pandemic. With its rotating artists and waterfront location it was a great place to be in Olympia. Often ignored by 'professional artists' and big galleries, Splash has the distinction of winning 'Best of The Northwest' twice in its existence. I feel this is due to its approachable atmosphere that makes a larger array of people feel comfortable coming in and experiencing art.
There are many advantages to a artist coop. One can show more of their work without the constraints of a gallery owner's direction. An artist can remove and place artwork without checking in or at any particular time....it was a freeing feeling! I was able to show nudes which cannot be done in smaller towns and many venues. I loved meeting fellow artists and working together on projects. In addition, It was fun to meet the buyers of my work. And I was inspired when I needed a little boost.
However the pressures of running a gallery and the differing opinions of how to do this can be a strain. I learned how much work all those gallery owners out there put into their shops and exhibits. I learned about who my customers were, but often had to be a source of entertainment to them. This venue though approachable by a large diversity of folks was a very hard place to show and sell large works. It's gift gallery atmosphere was conductive to sales but not exhibits. I learned that those who do most the work in a coop often struggle with control and the balance of hearing everyone involved....in my opinion inclusiveness is a key ingredient to holding a group together.
In the end I had to leave. My work evolved and I and it....began to 'not' fit. My need to make art and seclude myself....far outweighed my need to make production wares, sell artwork or interact with other people. I am grateful to the gallery and what it taught me, and to the other artists who have been there and continue to keep the dream alive.
My hope for the future of my work is to continue to find brick and mortar spaces that are good partnerships in fine art. And with the pressures of modern changes, to find ways to jump on the bandwagon of digital connections as well.
You can continue to see my work here and I hope soon to sell online as well (my lifestyle is not conductive to that just yet). You may also see ongoing pieces sold thru: