Artists Cooperate in Walla PopUp Gallery

Hannah Bartman

The Walla PopUp Gallery is a collaborative and economically innovative concept: a communal art gallery that opens for only a month in which all artists involved work for the gallery and profit from the sales.

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Photo by Allie Felt

The second PopUp Gallery will be installed in Walla Walla by Technical Assistant of Studio Art Lynn Woolson and Whitman alumnus Ben Lerchin ’13. The gallery will open Friday, May 2.

“Originally our goal was to form a cooperative and have an ongoing gallery, but with the economic times, we didn’t want to get saddled with a building, so we decided we would do these pop-ups,” said Woolson.

The exhibit will feature 22 artists contributing media such as paintings, photography, jewelry and collage. All of the artists are local. Lerchin is the only Whitman alumnus, and there will also be art from Assistant Professor of Art Justin Lincoln, Senior Adjunct Professor of Art Charly Bloomquist and Director of Sheehan Gallery Daniel Forbes.

All of the art is for sale and 80 percent of the profits go back to artists, a much greater cut than would normally be awarded to artists in a gallery space.

“Realistically, it’s hard for an artist to make a living just by selling their art,” said Bloomquist. “I like showing locally, and I like the idea of sharing my work with the community.”

Another reason that Woolson and Lerchin decided to open a pop-up gallery is the lack of art galleries in Walla Walla. Before the recession, about eight independently-run art galleries were functioning in downtown Walla Walla, but emerging from the recession not one was left.

The wine industry and local restaurants and coffee shops host art, but local artists most often have to show their art outside the local community.

Woolson also recognizes that she enjoys the communal setting of the pop-up gallery because it creates a greater community of artists to interact with and work together.

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Photo by Allie Felt

“Doing art is a very solitary experience, so it’s nice to come together as a group. That’s why I do it, to come out of my studio and be with other people,” she said.

The previous pop-up gallery took place from Nov. 22-Dec. 22 at the same rental space on 2nd Street and Alder Street. This gallery hosted 25 artists who were all recruited and accepted into the gallery on a first-come, first-served basis. All artists are required to pay $80 and work eight hours for the exhibit in order to shoulder the costs of rent and other reception expenses.

“The artists were wonderful to work with and Walla Walla really turned out for the gallery. There were solid sales and it was a really great experience,” said Woolson.

In the previous exhibit there were three recent Whitman graduates and one current Whitman student, senior art major Sophia Titterton.

“It was a great experience to have my work up in a gallery and be able to have something up in Walla Walla,” said Titterton. “It was just a really great, accepting community and it was a really fun time. I really enjoyed it.”

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Photo by Allie Felt

After the upcoming pop-up gallery, Woolson and Lerchin have greater plans for increasing artistic participation in Walla Walla. They hope to open more gallery spaces that Woolson describes as more “interactive, educational and demonstrational.”

“We’ve got some future goals that we’re trying to put together, so doing these pop-ups funds us so we can keep going with our goal,” said Woolson.

The gallery opens this Friday, May 2  at 6 p.m. at the Drumheller building on 2nd Street and Alder Street.