For EAA, finally, a home of its own

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By Sara Miller

Since its founding in 1958, the Evergreen Artists Association has been a vibrant organization promoting the visual arts with shows, member activities, scholarships, monthly programs and the annual Evergreen Fine Arts Festival.  However, for the majority of those 53 years of existence, the EAA has been homeless — with no physical structure and gallery space to call its own. That is about to change.

On Friday, June 24, the EAA will open the doors to Main Street Fine Art Gallery next to Beau Jo’s in downtown Evergreen.

Paul Koentges, EAA president, has spent many years searching for a space for the organization to call home.

“I have always looked for a permanent home for the EAA. We’ve looked at a huge number of retail spaces, but none were ever quite right,” Koentges said.

When photographer and gallery owner David Smith decided to relocate his business to the Evergreen Design Center, the space that was previously the Timberline Gallery became available. Koentges had been maintaining close communication with the Ross Lewis Trust, monitoring properties available downtown.

“The people at the trust have been very nice to do business with,” Koentges said. “They have worked with us to create a lease that is affordable for the organization and reasonable for this economy.”

Main Street Fine Art Gallery is an artist-owned gallery. Thus far, the EAA has 20 member artists whose work will be on display in the space. The gallery is a democratically governed space; any EAA member may apply to show there. The work is reviewed by the EAA-appointed jury committee. After paying EAA annual membership dues, artists pay a monthly fee and commit to working eight to 12 hours per week in the gallery. 

“We’ve had very positive feedback from our members,” Koentges said. “Our walls are full with two-dimensional art. We are still looking for three-dimensional artists — jewelry, pottery and sculpture — to fill out the space.”

The EAA members reworked the gallery configuration to open up the space and redesigned the hanging system to meet their needs. The art is not arranged by artists but is instead curated as a complete exhibit to create a cohesive aesthetic experience for the viewer.

The artists will hold an opening reception on Friday from 5 to 9 p.m. in conjunction with June’s Last Friday Gallery Walk. After the celebratory evening — complete with light refreshments — the Main Street Fine Art Gallery will be open for business.

The gallery will be open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EAA plans to have featured artists each month and rotate the art every 90 days to keep things fresh. The gallery plans to become a member of the Evergreen Gallery Association and take advantage of the new downtown location as a place to offer plein air painting classes near the creek or outside the gallery front door.

“We are most excited to have a permanent location for our members to show their artwork, hold meetings and classes, and to become part of the exciting changes going on in downtown Evergreen,” Koentges said.