Bits 'n' Pieces: Gallery 360 says goodbye to Ninth, looks for new space

By Stover E. Harger III, Columbian neighborhood news coordinator

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Gallery 360 will soon be without a place to hang its art.

The gallery, run by the nonprofit Mosaic Arts Alliance, has had a home at 111 W. Ninth St. in the Ludesher building since 2010. In its time in downtown Vancouver, the group has hosted regular exhibits by professionals and amateurs with the goal of bringing appreciation of art — in its myriad forms — to the masses.

But on Sept. 8, Gallery 360 will say "Farewell to 9th Street," the name of its latest exhibit.

"We are celebrating not only the space that we've had the last four years, but the idea of us moving forward and continuing to be a presence in the community," said Susan Williams, a photographer and president of the Mosaic Arts Alliance.

Williams said she and other Mosaic Arts Alliance members learned in late July that their lease would not be renewed when it expires next month. She said that's because the owner, Portland real estate firm Arthur Mutal, informed them there are other, not yet announced, plans for the space. The company did not respond to questions about its plans.

Once Gallery 360 wraps up its farewell show, which runs Sept. 4-7, Williams and the other volunteers will begin the melancholy process of packing up. The search for a new space downtown has already begun, with some promising leads, Williams said.

But the grant-funded nonprofit, which has a small membership, isn't made of money — though Williams said the budget is stable — so members will have to find a rent that's affordable.

Downtown is home

Mosaic Arts Alliance funds its bills through $40 monthly dues paid by its 14 main members — who must be voted into the co-op organization and can regularly display their artwork — and $50 yearly dues from numerous other supporters. The group is doing better than last year when it only had eight members paying monthly dues.

The organization has also been awarded four yearly grants between $5,000 and $6,000 from the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington so it can offer off-site art classes — often for kids who might not otherwise have the opportunity for hands-on lessons. Some of the young artists have come from shelters, such as Share House, and even the juvenile detention center.

This isn't the first time the Mosaic Arts Alliance has had to move. It ended up on Ninth Street four years ago after rent became unmanageable at its first home on Sixth Street, where it had been since 2005.

Though rent can be costly in the city's core, it's important to Williams that a new gallery is near the numerous other art spaces scattered around downtown. As a nod to the burgeoning arts community, the city council designated a portion of downtown as the Vancouver Arts District in April.

Staying downtown "has to do with supporting the whole philosophy of a Vancouver Arts District," Williams said. "The other galleries, they are helping us find space. This isn't a competition. It's a wonderful community of artists and each gallery offers something completely different."

Williams hopes Gallery 360 will be back on its feet soon.

"We are definitely in a great shape to move forward," she said.


Bits 'n' Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you'd like to share, email bits@columbian.com.