By Jessica Swanson
Photo by Todd Gunderson
Last September, an art gallery Vancouver was looking for opened on West Ninth Street. Lincoln’s Gallery, born by local alternative folk band Lincoln’s Beard, is fresh and laid back. You won’t find framing or art supplies here – you may not even find the doors open, but when they are, feel free to sit on the couch, nurse a bottle of water and soak up the Renaissance aesthetic of its owners, Tyler Morgan, Kris Chrisopulos and Dwayne Spence.
Kris is an art teacher at Prairie High School, while Tyler teaches history in Camas. Dwayne is long a music promoter in the Vancouver area and an artist who has shown in other venues. In the band, Tyler plays trumpet, keys, glockenspiel, mandolin and sings; Kris plays guitar and sings; and Dwayne plays bass, banjo and sings back-up. The band has one full-length record, Our American Cousin, and will soon be releasing another.
“There aren’t too many relationships you have where you can do something like this,” said Tyler.
Tyler and Kris have no experience running a gallery and say they had no loftier intentions than creating a space where they could play, practice and hang friends’ art, as well as their own. But they are already booking months out and have shown local artists such as Reid Trevarthen, Selfless Creations, Anni Becker, Mitch Tarbutton and James Jacob. While Tyler said most of the off-the-street inquiries are about the coin shop next door, the first opening was shoulder-to-shoulder people. The band plays at each opening and uses the space primarily to practice.
Kris said the concept for the gallery came together organically, and stays together because people keep supporting them. He said it was something “I’d like to see in the place where I live.”
Artists and friends sometimes volunteer to keep open hours for the gallery – otherwise it’s open on First Fridays, other Fridays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and by appointment.
The gallery fronts a space leased by fellow artist Brian Ripp, owner of Divergent Clothing.
“Brian has been a great influence,” said Kris, who collaborates with him on artwork. Kris said running a gallery and working with other artists inspires him to stay in the studio.
“From the art standpoint, I have produced more art than I ever have,” said Kris. And he added, “if somebody backs out, it’s up to you to fill the wall.”
106/108 W. Ninth St., Vancouver
By Jessica Swanson
Photos by Todd Gunderson
The 3/50 Project, launched a year ago by a Minneapolis retail consultant and former shopkeeper, has inspired thousands of businesses across the country to educate their customers on the importance of shopping locally. The reason it worked? It gives customers specific instructions and retailers simple tools.
Donna Jensen popped 3/50 Project flyers into her customers’ bags whenever they bought something at her Washougal yarn shop, It’s a Crewel World Yarn and Stitchery Shop. She printed up the flyer offered at www.the350project.net. It explains the simple concept: choose three independently owned brick-and-mortar businesses and spend $50 at them each month.
Donna, who sold her business after 24 years to Washougal resident and longtime customer Jennifer Powell in April, felt it was her job to educate her customers about how crucial it is to shop locally.
“I don’t think they have a clue,” she said. “I think they will go where they can best spend their money, and they spend $10 in gas to save a buck.”
The flyers spell out the benefits of shopping locally in black and white: “If just half the employed U.S. population spent $50 each month in independently owned businesses,” it reads, “their purchases would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue. For every $100 spent in independently owned stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll, and other expenditures. If you spend that in a national chain, only $43 stays here. Spend it online and nothing comes home.”
Donna said her customers would come in and show her yarn they bought on the Internet, or look at her yarn and then go find a better deal online.
“They tell me they didn’t have to pay tax and all this,” she said, “but the shipping is more than the tax would be and (shopping locally would) keep the tax dollars at home.”
Jennifer is going to support local spending in new ways when she takes over the business. She will feature yarn from Clark County alpaca and sheep, and she plans to connect those learning to knit with local designers who can help them bring their visions to life for a small fee.
Becky Milner has owned a “bricks-and-mortar” business in Vancouver for 35 years, Vintage Books. She learned about The 3/50 Project from one of the booksellers associations she belongs to. She keeps the 3/50 poster in her window and makes a point of thanking customers for shopping in the store, tailoring merchandise to regulars’ taste and frequenting other independent businesses.
But Becky’s business depends on the sales that the store does online, theoretically taking money out of the communities that those online customers live in. Very early in the store’s life, when its focus was automotive manuals and classic car ephemera, Becky offered a mail order catalog. The store started selling online in 1994 and today is considering social media. Without the online traffic, her business may not exist at all.
“The extra 20 to 25 percent (in sales) are really important to us,” she said. “We carry books that our local customers wouldn’t want. It lets us carry a broader selection of books. Technology is always changing, as are the avenues for selling books.”
Wendy Kosloski’s Longview business, Teague’s Interiors, is also a supporter of The 3/50 Project. (Businesses can be listed on the project’s website as “supporters.”) The fact that materials are available make it easy, and she said “it’s nice to see a larger group of people” pushing consumers to shop in their own towns and neighborhoods.
Wendy said the fact that 2009 ended with seven new businesses in downtown Longview is “a sign of the upturn,” but that the downturn may have actually helped some independent businesses stay afloat.
“There are things about the recession, like tightening your belt and watching gas, that helped us,” she said.
Wendy also believes that online shopping has hurt physical shops, but her store is somewhat protected because it is “custom decorating with a galley and boutique,” and her services must be done in person.
Wendy is going far beyond flyers and posters to support local businesses, especially those with a creative angle. The upper floor of her building, the historic Title Building, is now the Working Art Center. Seven connected commercial spaces with access to shared common areas are for lease at $300 a month. They are being marketed to studio artists and small businesses. In the Commerce Building next door, seven studio apartments are for rent, creating a charming and historic live-work environment unique in Longview.
As Wendy sees it, “independent businesses offer knowledge and service close to home and out of the ordinary.” And she, like her indie counterparts in Southwest Washington, continue to educate their customers and support each other.
“When I go into a shop,” said Becky Milner, “I say ‘Thank you for being here. Thank you for being independent.’”
05.16.2010 The newly formed Salmon Creek Farmers Market will locate behind the Three Creeks Library next to the Fred Meyer on 139th St. The market plans to open July 15 and run through Sept. 30 every Thursday from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Currently the group is looking for farmers, producers, artisans and entertainers. There is also an immediate need for volunteers for planning and sponsorship.
More awesome veggie opps — woo!
05.05.2010 The West Vancouver Art situation has never been more enticing. This Friday, May 7, marks the grand opening of The Space Art Collective and Tryckpress Galleri, Guerrilla Gallery’s first First Friday and the opening of the second season of Craft in the Village. Check out Lincoln’s Beard at Lincoln’s Gallery; The Shivas, We Play Quiet, Padraic Finbar Hagerty Hammond and Oigen at Guerrilla; Auxillary, Glitter Zombie, Briz and This Infernal Machine at The Space, plus drum circle and poetry. Downtown, find Angst Gallery, Gallery 21, Art on the Boulevard, Firehouse Glass (which is now doing their open houses on Saturday afternoons, but will still be open on First Fridays), Sixth Street Gallery and North Bank Gallery. And on 4th Plain and Esther, The Stray.
And I know, the art shouldn’t take a backseat to the action. But the action? Well, that’s what’s new.
Find it all, obviously, on your friendly local social networking system.