Art Party

Two decades of celebration

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Without a man named Douglas Chapman, Fairhaven’s Lucia Douglas Gallery would never have opened its doors. And without a tenacious woman named Linda Gardner, those doors would’ve likely slammed shut long ago.

But, thanks to the efforts of both Chapman and Gardner, the longtime exhibit space will celebrate its 20th birthday Sat., Sept. 21 during the Fairhaven Art Block Party.

For those familiar with the history of Lucia Douglas, Saturday’s party will provide them with a chance to revisit the gallery and give high fives to Gardner—who’ll also be happy to explain to attendees how she came to be the owner.

While Gardner can fill you in on the intricate details of the story, the abbreviated version is that Chapman built and opened the gallery in 1993 as a way to highlight abstract and conceptual artists. He worked on tugboats and other creative projects for part of the year, and would get friends—such as Gardner—to fill in at the gallery during his absence.

Five years after opening the gallery, Chapman was diagnosed with Hepatitis C, and passed away shortly thereafter.

“Before he died, he was working on a John Sayles movie in Alaska,” Gardner says. “He asked me to do a show while he was gone. Sadly, he was dead by the end of the summer.”

Instead of selling to the highest bidder, Chapman’s mother agreed to sell the business to Gardner and the property to Amy Morgan. Gardner got busy contacting local and regional artists of note, and, with the help of friend and creative cohort Anne Krutcher, has spent the ensuing years displaying and selling art any big-city gallery would be happy to have.

“In the late 1990s, all these great Northwests artists were still alive,” Gardner says. “Northwest masters like John Cole, Paul Havas, and Clayton James were still working. It was a really great time to take over the business.”

And, when the economic downturn eventually put a crimp in art sales, Gardner stuck it out and, as mentioned previously, kept the doors open for business. It’s been a struggle, she says, but for now she’s sticking with it.

At “Postcards from Fairhaven,” the one-night-only exhibit happening at the Lucia Douglas Gallery during the Fairhaven Art Block Party—which will also see the Firehouse Performing Arts Center coming alive with art, poetry readings, dance performances and more—small works by more than 50 local artists will be on display and priced to sell.

Chances are good that information about those artists can be found somewhere in the filled-to-capacity file cabinet Gardner keeps in her office. For most of the 15 years she’s been running the gallery, she’s had one show a month, and the details add up.

And, although she doesn’t make a lot of money wrangling art and artists, Gardner says she loves her job, and doesn’t want people to have to go to Seattle to purchase quality artwork.

“I love working with artists and getting to know people in the community this way,” she says. “One of things that’s most rewarding is to go into someone’s house and see artists I ‘found’ in their house. It feels good to see that and to know that people accept what you’re bringing to town.”

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