By Neal Lemery
It has been an amazing year for Art Accelerated. A year ago, we were celebrating a successful year of several pop up shows, and several open mics downtown. There was no permanent home and the Gallery was only an idea, a dream.
During the holidays, we held a successful evening open mic at Phoenix Rising, our first true cooperative effort with a local business. Despite awful weather, the place was packed and both readers and the audience had a splendid time celebrating local creativity. We all realized we wanted more opportunities for local artists and to build our creative community downtown.
Our next pop up show was during the Presidents’ Day weekend in February. We put up a show on the corner of Third and Main, in a deserted storefront. Despite poor weather, we had a very successful sale, noteworthy in that most of our sales were to local residents.
In the last several years, one of the dreams of the board of directors was to open an art gallery in downtown Tillamook, on a permanent basis. We could have a consistent presence downtown, showcasing local artists, have revolving shows and offer classes and workshops. A regular, established location would drive sales and give both local residents and tourists an art experience downtown.
Our open mics at YoTime Frozen Yogurt became a monthly event, drawing larger audiences and a wide range of poets, musicians, and other local talent. Our partnership with YoTime and the support of the community now has firmly established our regular monthly open mic on the third Saturday night of the month. Wow, a nice family oriented artistic event on Saturday night downtown! A cultural shift! People want artistic experiences!
Our dream of a permanent, “brick and mortar” gallery came into reality when we moved our “pop up” gallery to our new home at 1906 Third Street in June. We quickly put up our first show there, and have enjoyed a new show every month ever since.
Thanks to your support and creative endeavors, we offer fresh and exciting art work every month to the public. We have had a steady stream of visitors and, even more exciting, sales of local art work. Visitors from all over the world have wandered around, exclaiming about our talented artists, and, taking some of the work home!
Our January show, “Pamper Yourself”, opens next week, and in February, we are focusing on valentines and presidents. I’m not quite sure how that will play out, but we will find our creative voices for the “month of love”. Maybe we can celebrate chocolate, too!
In June, we are going to celebrate Highway 6, with an art show, sketch crawls, maybe a plein aire experience at the Forestry Center, and thinking of a song writing contest. Put your Muse at work on those ideas.
Our card rack, jewelry case, and our local author book shelf have also attracted customers, and we are also now offering CDs from several local musicians.
Partnering with the OSU Extension and 4-H, we have offered summer and after school art classes for grade school kids. We’ve also partnered with the county library and Pelican Pub for a variety of events and workshops, and joined with the Pioneer Museum for the very first “Mook Book Fair” in November, giving 20 local authors an attractive venue for holiday book sales.
Our national fabric print art show in November was a nice collaboration with the Frogman's Print Workshop. Thank you, Christine and Dennis, for your trip to Nebraska for that workshop and for bringing that amazing show back for our community to enjoy!
Other workshops and classes have included a sketch crawl. This was in conjunction with the Saturday downtown farmers’ market and Pelican Pub’s first Salmon Run 5K race. We have also held successful print making and prayer flag painting events.
Monthly artists’ receptions focus on our artists, offering them a chance to meet the public, talk about their art, and showcase their work and our monthly shows. We actively promote these events, and I hope you do, as well. We are a team.
None of these events would have happened if we hadn’t had the support and creative energies of our artists, and the enthusiasm and support that a community arts center and gallery has generated in our community.
Art Accelerated now has an accepted presence in the downtown community. We are active in the Chamber of Commerce and the downtown merchants association, and are actively involved in downtown business events, such as Moonlight Madness, Halloween, and the Chamber’s “Construct Downtown Sweepstakes”.
Tillamook’s mayor, Suzanne Weber, has repeatedly told me that we are a vital and essential part of the revitalization of the downtown area.
These activities and partnerships bring us business and promote the art gallery at part of a vibrant and thriving downtown “scene”. These partnerships don’t just magically occur, either. They are the result of a great deal of continual effort by your board of directors, especially our gallery manager, Christine Harrison.
Our website, Facebook page, Yelp, and Instagram accounts continually promote the gallery and our artists’ work, and represent literally hundreds of hours of volunteer promotional effort by your board of directors. Dennis Worrel is our resident “Square” expert now, with our cash register system on the cutting edge of small business technology. I’ve been fleshing out our Facebook page with a variety of events and posts. Cindy Gardner and Linda Werner continually add their expertise and creativity to our many projects.
All of these activities help promote you and your work, and give your creativity the visibility that your work deserves.
There is more work to be done. And, I am asking for more help from you. Much of the work of marketing the gallery comes from word of mouth and the social media and networking of our friends and contributing artists. Your Facebook “likes” and your Facebook and website postings and promotions that promote the gallery and its events can have a substantial impact You can also follow us on Instagram and add photos of your work and creative inspirations.
You can do this promotional work on Twitter and Instagram, too. Again, the power of word of mouth and those wonderful one on one relationships that build connection, and, ultimately, sales.
One of the treasures for me this year is getting to know other artists, and to be able to examine their work, learn about new processes and experience the creative energy of my fellow creatives. Being in an artistic community is now a reality in Tillamook, and I am so thankful we now can have these experiences.
“A rising tide lifts all boats” is my mantra for marketing and social media promotions.
I also want to remind all of us how Art Accelerated is managed. The gallery is operated by a professional gallery manager, who has sole discretion on selecting art work, arranging shows, and marketing the gallery and its many events. Christine Harrison has many years of experience as a professional artist, and has a strong network of friends and associates in the professional art gallery world. Her expertise and professionalism are a tremendous asset to your work and presence in the gallery, and to our organization.
We are a non profit corporation, governed by a five person board of directors: Linda Werner, Cindy Gardner, Dennis Worrell, Christine Harrison, and myself.
Artists’ dues and the dues of the general membership only cover a fourth of our expenses. We also rely on donations, income from our 4H and OSU Extension classes, workshop fees, fundraisers, and commission sales.
This spring, a very generous donation allowed us to purchase the Square retail sales and inventory equipment and software, and beef up our website to a professional level. The end of the year has not brought forth another generous donor, however.
Artist members are selected by the gallery manager, through an application process, to ensure that the art work exhibited meets the high standards of the professional art world. Much like a juried show, the artwork is screened by the gallery manager in order to be considered for each show. Pricing of work is a collaborative process between the gallery manager and the artist, with an emphasis on consistency, market value, and competitive, realistic prices.
The gallery’s business model and business plan mandates these standards and this process. We must act and conduct business in a manner that ensures our viability and long term financial success.
This process is the standard of the national professional art gallery business environment, and has proven to be a sound marketing practice and beneficial to artists. We believe in this process and these professional standards.
The board’s goals and standards include these concepts. We desire to bring a high level of professional art standards to Tillamook, and provide local artists with a professional venue that will promote and enhance their marketing, and the art experience of our customers. We won’t accept anything less, because our community deserve the best.
2018 holds much promise. We expect gallery quality LED lighting to be installed in the gallery soon, thanks to a grant from the Tillamook PUD. We have hopes to soon be awarded a marketing grant from Visit Tillamook Coast that will allow us to improve our website, create artist focused videos, produce more brochures, and add public signs. The board, especially Christine Harrison, put in over 200 volunteer hours in writing that grant application. Fingers crossed! As in life, nothing in the world of grants is a sure thing.
Additional classes and workshops, and more grant possibilities also await us, as well as the excitement of showing even more of your incredible work at the Gallery and around town.
On behalf of the Board, thank you to everyone who helped this be a fantastic year. And, to quote my fellow board member, Linda Werner, “Something great is happening!”
See you at the Gallery!
Neal C. Lemery