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Teaming up in the cause of art

Brian Mackin shapes a bowl at BAC. The gallery features a month-long series of demonstrations for its 55th anniversary.   - Ryan Schierling/Staff Photo
Brian Mackin shapes a bowl at BAC. The gallery features a month-long series of demonstrations for its 55th anniversary.
— image credit: Ryan Schierling/Staff Photo

Downtown outlets form new Bainbridge Island Art Gallery Association

Four voices speak louder than one.

A quartet of local galleries are counting on that premise, as they unite to form the Bainbridge Island Art Gallery Association.

Sparked by growing friendships among the downtown dealers and directors – Susan Jackson of Bainbridge Arts and Crafts, Lone Hansen of Art Soup, Wes and Andrea King of Roby King Galleries, and Kathy and Jeff Fraga of Gallery Fraga – the association aims to create a unified voice for contemporary art on the island.

“I start with this premise that my job is all about the arts, not just Bainbridge Arts and Crafts ” Jackson said. “I really like all the other dealers so it seemed natural to form an association.”

And, it’s a smart move. Jackson, who joined BAC last summer, brings the administrative savvy she picked up working at New York’s Museum of Modern Art and at Aspen Art Museum in Aspen, Colo.

She believes nonprofit status will open doors. The group may do collective advertising that costs each less; the association may apply for grants together for a variety of projects that could include collective shows, guest speakers, visiting artists and access to information.

Information that can help bolster the galleries is out there, Jackson says.

“The minute you’re a nonprofit you can get all sorts of advice,” she said. “It is a very ‘nonprofity’ thing to do.”

The idea of forming an association was raised about six months ago, according to Hansen, whose gallery opened in April 2002, when Fraga and Jackson approached her. The Kings joined the discussion as well, and the dealers swiftly arrived at consensus about their first priority.

“We’re committed, number one, to contemporary art,” Jackson said, “because we all show that.”

Within that framework, there’s plenty of variety among the four galleries – from Hansen, who opened her first art space here in 1989 to feature her mother’s works, to the Kings’ cross-section of local and regional artists.

But the framework should benefit all, the dealers believe, and the group is open to admitting more members.

Jackson points out that projects such as publishing a brochure are more feasible with a larger group.

“I wish we had 13 galleries here,” Jackson said. “It’s about cooperation, not competition. I want to see everyone succeed.”

Marketing art

The gallery association may garner more attention from area media, Wes King says, and the group will also publish information geared to increasing community awareness of art.

The association members plan to coordinate sharing artists.

When Hansen planned an upcoming show with the theme of “Mothers and Daughters,” she found that one of her potential exhibitors was a Bainbridge Arts and Crafts artist.

“I went there (to BAC) to ask permission,” Hansen said.

“We don’t want to step on toes, but situations come up. It’s ‘whose artist is this?’ and ‘whose artist is that?’”

Forging relationships with local schools is another priority. BIAGA will start internships to provide training and education to students and artists interested in art gallery administration.

BAC, which has re-established a long-time program to provide grants to local schools, has also established two internships with Northwest College of Art for next winter and spring that will bring students to the gallery for credit. Art Soup has an intern of its own in place.

The group will try to coordinate openings to improve marketing, although for now, BAC’s six-week exhibits are out of synch with the standard, once-a-month openings of the other spaces.

“Eventually we will all be opening on the same night,” Hansen said. “It gives people a reason to come downtown to an art event.”

Jackson notes that future plans may also include collaborative projects and exhibits.

But the bottom line, all agree, is the individual artist.

“We really need to join,” Hansen said, “because if we do well, the artists do well.”

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