On Bainbridge Island, the Roby King Gallery and its’ visitors believe in supporting each other.
Washington’s Bainbridge Island, just a ferry ride across the water from Seattle, is a hopping tourist destination. Local and long-distance visitors alike flock to this idyllic setting in droves, especially during the summer months. But a few years back, a long-term reconstruction project through the heart of the island’s business district blocked the steady stream of tourist traffic. Local merchants, like the Roby King Gallery, feared for their survival. Yet somehow the locals kept Roby King and others in business by supporting them during the reconstruction crisis, and the gallery continues to thrive today.
Co-owner Andrea Roby-King loves to tell this story, not only because she and her husband Wes King are so grateful for local support but because it illustrates an important point: People get how essential art is to any community, so much so that they won’t let a great art resource go once they have it. Ideally, a symbiotic relationship develops between a community’s art galleries and its’ people, and the Roby King Gallery has been enjoying this kind of relationship with Bainbridge Island residents and visitors since it opened back in 1990. Roby-King states that the gallery’s mission is simply to bring top quality, affordable art to the island and to the region. Simple, yet invaluable.
Like many galleries, the Roby King Gallery fills an educational role in the community by introducing new artists and educating art enthusiasts about various kinds of art. The gallery’s next show, the Annual Printmaking Exhibition, which opens October 7th and runs through the 29th, is a great example. “We started this yearly showing of printmaking because we wanted to teach people that prints are not the same as reproductions, even though the two terms are often used interchangeably,” says Roby-King. “Prints are made by hand, and each one is unique.”
Roby-King herself curates the exhibition with an eye toward highlighting the long tradition of talented printmakers on the island and throughout Washington, Oregon, and Alaska. There are four artists who’ve been featured every year since the beginning, but for each show Roby-King adds or subtracts a few artists to keep things lively and interesting. All types of printmaking are represented, such as etchings, woodcuts, linocuts, monoprints, and more.
This year’s exhibition features a robust group of eight artists, and collectively their work shows just how richly varied printmaking can be. For instance, Fumi Matsumoto does block woodcuts on brewed teabag papers, while Gary Groves, another woodcut artist, chisels his images from mahogany plywood, often requiring a month or more to complete one piece. The annual showing also reveals how some artists’ work has evolved over time. Lynn Brofsky, for example, has always worked with very contemporary imagery, but her work has morphed from completely monochromatic to a more colorful palette. The other printmakers included in this year’s show are Mary N. Balcomb, Stephen MacFarlane, Denise Kester, Kathryn Lesh, and Patrick Simon.
In general, the Roby King Gallery features mostly contemporary representational work, although there are a couple of abstract or semi-abstract artists. Most of the work is done in oils, but there are also works done in pastel, watercolor, mixed media, and watercolors. Among the 35 or so artists represented are Cheri Christensen, Diane Ainsworth, Neal Philpott, Faye Judson, and Pam Ingalls. For more information about the Roby King Gallery and its monthly exhibitions, visit robykinggallery.com.
Jennifer King is a marketer, artist, writer, and entrepreneur. A long time student of art marketing and the fine art industry, she currently provides art marketing services and coaching to visual artists through her company, Connect Artist Marketing. Learn more at www.connectartistmarketing.com.