QUILCENE — The Olympic Art Gallery has been a hotbed, tucked away in a tiny town.
Owners Sally and Charlie Brown opened it six years ago and proceeded to hold holiday-weekend festivals replete with local artists’ demonstrations.
The nonprofit gallery at the intersection of U.S. Highway 101 and Washington Street housed nature’s resplendence in art: Watercolors, bronze sculpture, slumped glass and photography all shared the space.
But Saturday will be the last festival — for the foreseeable future — at the Olympic Art Gallery.
Admission is free to the show and sale from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Browns have decided to go to appointment-only showings of their artists’ work, while devoting more time to their other business, Brown Custom Iron.
“Trying to run two businesses, I was just overwhelmed,” Sally Brown said last Friday.
She opened the gallery — and held Memorial Day, Labor Day and Christmas festivals there — because she loves art and wanted to give local artists exposure.
Wildlife art showcase
Sally then built up the operation to become one of the largest showcases of wildlife art on the North Olympic Peninsula.
Sally didn’t take a salary for running the gallery.
“I volunteered to help out the artists,” she said. “It brought me great joy to do that.”
Running the Olympic Art Gallery also meant she and her husband had almost no time off.
The Browns haven’t had a vacation since 1998.
Then Sally, 61, lost two close friends during the past year. She also said she had disagreements with the Quilcene-Brinnon Chamber of Commerce leadership and decided she’d had enough of all that.
“It’s time to regroup,” she said. “I’m thinking: Life is too short. I want to spend time with my husband.”
While Charlie custom-builds gates and other iron art, Sally does the detailing.
Together, they have created gates depicting the Roosevelt elk, the Olympic Mountains and other natural wonders. Their next project is a gate bearing three dolphins for a client in Port Angeles.
Artists at last festival
At Saturday’s final festival, more than a dozen artists will be on hand, showing their work and in some cases demonstrating.
Christine Witte, a retired Boeing Co. engineer who moved over to Quilcene full time earlier this year, will show visitors her watercolor painting techniques.
Her work, which ranges from images of vintage automobiles to close-ups of flowers and seafood, will be part of the show featuring dozens of artists from within a 100-mile radius.
“There’s quite a variety,” Witte said.
Saturday’s array includes, among many others: bronze sculpture by Ratso, stained glass and paintings on silk by Melissa Penic, sea-glass jewelry by Connie Rodibaugh, scrollsaw art by Terry Foltz, carved wooden birds by Bill Lohnes, photorealistic watercolors by Patricia Taynton and antler baskets by Cathy Cutsforth.
Much of the art is discounted 20 percent or more, added Sally Brown.
Gallery visitors will have one last opportunity to mingle with the gathering of artists, while the painters, potters, wood turners and sculptors will have “one last shot,” as Sally put it, to sell their work in the festival setting.
“I’m sad. It was nice and close and convenient and fun,” Witte said of Quilcene’s art gallery.
She’s looking forward, though, to being one of Saturday’s demonstrators.
She and Sally also plan to offer watercolor classes at the gallery in 2012.
“I just like to spread the joy of being able to paint,” Witte said. “I’m so excited; I want to share that.”
After this weekend, the Olympic Art Gallery will become a place where art lovers can come, by appointment, to see a local artist’s work.
To reach Sally Brown and to find out more about the participating artists, phone 360-531-2015.
Details about Saturday’s festival are also available at www.OlympicArtGallery.com.
________Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3550 or at email@example.com.