The Gallery’s Ohana Of Artists
The Gallery at Ward Centre is not your typical art gallery.
As an artists’ cooperative, the shop is staffed by member artists who put in one day a week, which gives customers the opportunity to speak with one of the gallery’s talents.
“People who work here have all kinds of skills,” says Roger Whitlock, a painter and a former English professor at the University of Hawaii. “They are not only good artists, they have to be salespeople. They also need to be knowledgeable about their fellow artists. People like to come into the gallery and talk to the artists.”
“We all have one shot at being the feature show,” adds Lynda Sakraida, a handbag designer and former marketing executive for L’Oreal. “And we are all showing our art at the same time. You take advantage of everyone’s differences and talents when you have 17 artists.”
Gallery browsers could possibly meet Sakraida, or Whitlock’s fellow painters Susie Anderson, Mark Norseth, Gregory Pai and Debbie Young. The staff lineup also features woodworkers Michael Lee and Roy Tsumoto, as well as jewelers Babs Miyano-Young, Joel Park, Barbara Edelstein and Charlene Tashima. Rounding out the diversity of the gallery are scratchboard engraver Cindy Conklin, printmaker Laura Smith, glass artist Bud Spindt, silver metal clay artist Gorden Uyehara and mixed-media artist Doug Young.
Members say The Gallery at Ward Centre is one of the longest running art co-ops on Oahu, founded in 1988.
“It works because it is a family,” says Sakraida.
Whitlock adds: “We make sure everyone is fairly represented in terms of the work assigned and the space assigned.”
At the end of each month, the artists rearrange their artwork in a different location in the shop. The number of artists is determined by the amount of existing exhibit space, and new artists interested in joining when a space opens go through a four-month probationary period.
The inventive artists recently updated their logo, revamped their Web site and renovated their 650-square-foot space. With input from all 17 artists, the art emporium remodeling was done with suggestions from art installation expert Diana Tusher of the Tusher Architectural Group. The renovation planning committee consisted of Whitlock, Miyano-Young, Smith, and Sakraida as chairwoman. Conklin, president of the board of The Gallery at Ward Centre, guided the efforts as each of the artists rolled up his or her sleeves over four days to demolish, sand, paint, vacuum, organize, hammer, repair, clean and modernize for the Feb. 25 grand reopening celebration. The artists had to move all their pieces two days later, as the impending tsunami could have destroyed their work.
A small fire in the shop across the way, Mocha Java, on March 8 also caused some concern about the possibility of fire and water damage, but the gallery suffered no damage.
The cooperative gets the word out in many ways, including inviting guest artists. Whitlock says the guest artist sends out invitations for the opening to his or her own list of contacts.
“Then we send out invitations to our list,” he adds. “We hope that brings in people who don’t normally come. It creates a lot of activity in front of the gallery and inside the gallery.”
The gallery also spreads the word with painting demonstrations most Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., as well as monthly artist opening receptions on weekends, artist exhibits at other venues and an active e-vite list.
“We are always looking for more innovative and saleable art to bring here,” says Sakraida.
The Gallery at Ward Centre is located at 1200 Ala Moana Blvd. and is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 597-8034 or log on to www.gwcfineart.com.
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