After a year-long remodel, and what felt to many like never-ending construction, downtown Snoqualmie was transformed. Since the Downtown Infrastructure Improvement Project finished last summer, several new businesses have brought new life to the historic downtown core that draws thousands of visitors each years to see the Falls, the river and the trains.
Snoqualmie Valley artists say it was just a matter of time before a town surrounded by such natural beauty, rich history, and a booming community added art to its downtown core.
The combined forces of the Snoqualmie Arts Commission and the Mt Si Artist Guild have been the drivers, consistently working over the past few years to bring the arts to the Snoqualmie Valley – and finding unique opportunities to engage the community.
It seems they’re now taking those efforts to a new level – opening a Collective Art Gallery this month in downtown Snoqualmie.
As chair of the Snoqualmie Arts Commission (SAC), Sally Rackets was instrumental in turning empty downtown commercial spaces into Storefront Art Galleries. But as the economy improved and the downtown Snoqualmie remodel came to an end, Sally knew those empty spaces would be harder to come by.
Mt Si Artist Guild (MSAG), a “non-profit organization of artists dedicated to the encouragement and advancement of the skill level of both emerging and more experienced artists,” decided to approach Mike Kirkland of MK Properties, who for years had been supportive of making it feasible for artists to lease one of his buildings in downtown Snoqualmie.
After crunching numbers and pouring over business plans, MSAG came up with its best offer, and Sally extended the offer to Mike Kirkland – hoping to at last achieve MSAG’s long-term goal of establishing an art gallery.
Rackets explained when she entered MK Properties last fall, she knew the offer she carried seemed laughable. But Kirkland, a big supporter of the arts, believed there was value in having a group of artists represented in downtown Snoqualmie – and accepted the group’s offer.
“It was a very surreal conversation that concluded with a handshake.” Rackets recalled.
With the contract signed, the small band of twelve MSAG artists rolled up their sleeves to make their common dream of an art gallery a reality.
Brown paper went up over the future gallery’s windows at 8130 Railroad Ave, and a transformation occurred under the direction of Leslie Kreher, head of the art collective’s renovation team. Walls were painted, lighting changed and carpet removed for a whole new look.
The Art Gallery of SnoValley opens in early February. Regular hours will be noon to 6PM Wednesday through Sunday, with the Grand Opening celebration planned for February 26th from noon to 9PM.
In addition to displaying work of Snoqualmie Valley artists, the collective plans to frequently have an artist actively working in the gallery, provide public demonstrations and have special displays of well-known guest artists, as well as emerging Valley artists. The space can also be rented for private and corporate events.
So what’s a Collective Art Gallery?
It’s a group of artists working together to display their artwork in a gallery space managed by the group itself, sharing the financial commitment and work of the gallery. The Art Gallery of SnoValley is under the umbrella of the Mt Si Artist Guild. The MSAG board serves both the guild and the collective.
To be considered as members of the collective, individuals must be members of the guild and be screened by the MSAG board, a gallery manager, and an artist outside the guild to ensure a high level of artistic skill and diversity of work.
The collective is currently composed of twelve two-dimensional artists, but plans to soon expand to fifteen members to include three-dimensional artists.
Members are all Valley residents working to exhibit and sell their pieces, with the goal of supporting each other as artists while supporting the community and merchants in historic downtown. In turn, they hope their effort enrich the lives of Snoqualmie Valley residents and visitors to the area.