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Co-Op Arts Center in the Heartbeat of Olympia Going Strong After a Decade!

Honoring the Past: In 2011, Splash Gallery of Olympia was an idea germinating out the desire of nine local artists to create an arts community. Their vision was and is to promote artistic expression in the community. Founding Members Melodi Cottongim included (watercolorist); Janet Schrader (fused glass artist), who has been a member for 10 years; Thomas Boatright (painter); Anna Boatright (photographer); Christina Malek (fiber artist); Marion Pollman (ceramics); Rick Ranum (photographer); Janice Lyons (mixed media/acrylics); and Heather Taylor (watercolor/acrylic).


Like most successful businesses, Splash Gallery began with intensive planning sessions. A SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) was developed with a strategic plan that served as a template to instill commitment to worthy goals of all members, focus on high-average goals and to set a common direction for the organization. In 2017, Splash Gallery of Olympia was voted #1 Art Gallery in this year's "Best of Western Washington" contest, hosted by King5. They were in excellent company, with other top-notch galleries across Western Washington. In 2019, the gallery was voted Best of South Sound by The Olympian. Prior to 2020, Splash Gallery had averaged four shows annually, while participating in many local activities such as Harbor Days, Spring and Fall Arts Walk, First Thursdays, Olympia Wooden Boat Fair, many downtown shopping events and numerous community service projects with local schools, youth and social service organizations.


Celebrating the Present: Founding member, Janet Schrader continues to provide leadership and direction-- and remains one of the gallery’s most successful artists. “We are dedicated to promoting local Northwest artists working in a variety of mediums in a beautiful shared space for visual artists to exhibit, develop and advance their work with a group of fellow artists,” said Schrader. “A lot has changed over the years but our vision has been a guiding light. We signed our letters of incorporation in July of 2011 and held our first opening reception on August 20 that same year.”


Schrader has enjoyed a creative journey of 40 years that has taken her from stained glass to fused glass, from the across the globe where she has won many international awards. She is also the author of 14 books and has taught her method in the US and Australia.


“Each artist brings not only their unique talents as an artist, but they also advance our work with expertise in marketing, finance, technology and retail operations. Over the past year, we’ve also relied heavily on the knowledge of pastel artist, Jan Carlton, a retired physician and photographer Kevin Wickersham, who works for the Washington State Department of Health. Together, they have been invaluable in helping us navigate the pandemic,” adds Schrader. Additionally, members work shifts, create window displays and maintain the gallery space.


Embracing the Future: Gallery director, Laurel Henn oversees much of the day to day operations along with two other directors. Henn creates woodblock art, one of the oldest forms of printmaking, using a relief where knives and other tools are used to carve a design into the surface of a wooden block. She then hand paints each piece on archival paper where it is mounted and framed. Henn joined the gallery in 2016 and has gained a reputation for local public arts installations and an impressive following of art lovers at Splash Gallery.


“The past 18 months have been challenging but we adapted by refreshing the gallery space, creating a much more significant website presence for online shopping, and inviting new artists to our circle. In 2021, we are looking forward to extending hours again, participating in area events and working with local schools on a very special project in the new year,” said Henn.

Additional members as of August 2021 include: Buffy Finkel (art quilt), Connie McGuire (carving and ink) Dennis Powers (wood turner) Elizabeth Berrien (wire sculpture), Eunice King (torn paper); Jan Carlton (pastel) Janet Schrader (fused glass), Katherine Ransom (painter), Kevin Wickersham (photographer), Laura Harmon (ceramics), Niki Bilodeau (etching), Ruth Greening (metal jeweler and sculptor) and Sue Morganroth (mosaic).


“We’re incredibly grateful to be standing strong today. We could not have achieved our status as one of the must-see galleries in Olympia without enthusiastic encouragement, a solid foundation with stable growth due to the hard work of our member base, the Olympia Downtown Alliance, Thurston County residents and art lovers from around the world. We are thrilled to look ahead and what the next ten years will bring!


The gallery recently updated their hours of operation at the gallery at Percival Landing. Splash Gallery is now open Wednesday through Sunday from 11:00 to 6:00pm. Art lovers are always welcome to explore and enjoy the online shopping experience at SplashGalleryOlympia.com.


***

Located on the boardwalk at the scenic Olympia Marina, the iconic co-op gallery is a one-of-a-kind art experience in the heartbeat of South Puget Sound. Splash offers a vibrant selection of local fine art including oils and acrylics, watercolor, jewelry, fused glass, ceramics, photography, mosaics, wire sculpture, textile art and more. Splash Gallery of Olympia is a cooperative art gallery established in 2011 to promote artistic expression in the community through exhibitions and contributions to local groups in support of the arts. Located at 501 Columbia Street, Suite C, Olympia, WA. For more information contact us at splashgalleryolympia@gmail.com or visit SplashGalleryOlympia.com.

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