Arts and Entertainment

In hard times, new members flock to the Kingston Art Gallery

New members equal new energy, new ideas and a new town festival.

Some came ironically, some came directly, some came rather serendipitously.

In spite of, or perhaps because of, the depressing economic climate and a daunting financial forecast, a host of new members have flocked to the Kingston Art Gallery in the first quarter of 2009.

The gallery, which formed out of an art walk years ago, signed on eight new members in the past four months, nearly double the average amount of its new members in any given year. This year, in response to the deepening economic recession and its effects on local artists, the KAG waived its typical joining fee from the first of the year through March.

And local artists have responded right back.

“It’s as high as it’s ever been,” KAG founding member and one of May’s featured artists Marilyn Liden-Bode said of the gallery’s artist count. “We were down quite a few. We’ve always had our eight original founders, which we still do, but now we have 22 total artists which is back up to the number we’ve had in the past.”

Along with a bevy of new work, the influx of artists seems to have brought new energy, new ideas, and a renewed enthusiasm to the gallery — which was quite apparent at this month’s bustling Second Saturday Gallery Night, Neuvo de Mayo.

That newfound fervor is also present in the KAG’s summer calendar.

Beginning with a collaboration with Stillwaters Environmental Center in Stan Tzonev’s nature photo show (which the gallery hosted this past month) and in partnering with poets from the Crab Creek Review for the May 9 gallery night, the KAG is expanding its community involvement and planning a few new community events this summer.

They’re in the midst of organizing a new town festival — Slug inFESTation in August — in addition to planning a Kingston High School senior art show in June. Also this summer, the North Kitsap Arts and Crafts Festival is moving to Kingston for its 50th anniversary in July, which the KAG will likely be heavily involved in. They’re also planning a presence at July’s Future Festival in Port Gamble and a host of other summertime events.

“Really these are some of the things that are happening because of our new members,” Bode said. “Because we have more people with new energy, new ideas ... and wonderful art.”

For more on the SLUG inFESTation and all the happenings at the KAG, visit them online at www.kingstonartgallery.com or by calling (360) 297-5133.

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