By Gale Hemmann
Nestled just off the bridge as you enter Hoquiam, the Six Rivers Gallery is a local gem. This cozy, inviting gallery is run by the Harbor Art Guild, a group of Grays Harbor-area artists who came together in 2008. The gallery is located in the small house on Sixth Street behind Levee Lumber (it was formerly a stained glass gallery). Upon entering, a world of art awaits you. You’ll find beautiful works by Harbor Art Guild members as well as a first-class gift shop.
I stopped by the gallery to learn more about the Harbor Art Guild and what they do in the community. Walking in the door on a clear autumn day, I was warmly greeted by Mary Lou Gregory. Gregory is a watercolor artist and a founding member of the guild. She also currently serves as a Board member, helps schedule the gallery, and maintains the group’s website. You might recognize Gregory’s name: She is also a retired teacher and librarian. She served as a math teacher at Hoquiam High School, then a librarian at the high school, Grays Harbor College, and the Timberland Regional Library before retiring. Helping run the Harbor Art Guild (which is made up entirely of volunteers) is a labor of love for Gregory.
As we talked, Gregory shared with me lovingly-arranged scrapbooks of the Harbor Art Guild’s history. There are currently about 45 artists in the guild. Coming from all walks of life, the photos clearly showed them having a great time together, whether they were at a booth for a community event, hosting an opening reception or running a kids’ art show.
During my visit, local artist Tina Karvonen was busy hanging art for the upcoming show, “The Rhythms of Our Lives.” The multi-talented Karvonen does acrylic painting, amazing tissue-paper art, and pysanky (Ukranian-style decorated eggs), to name just a few of her creative outlets. We chatted about art and the guild. Like Gregory, she is enthusiastic about being a part of the group, and feels it has definitely helped bring the local art scene together and bring more art into the community.
The Six Rivers Gallery gets its name from the “six rivers” flowing into Grays Harbor. The gallery’s name fits well: it is a harbor, bringing together all the creative energy from the area in one place.
The Harbor Art Guild: Connecting Art and People
In the six years since the Harbor Art Guild has been founded, they’ve accomplished a lot. Here are their current activities:
Free art shows: The Gallery features several art exhibits each year. The shows are open to the public and feature lots of interesting work by local artists (including everything from painting to woodworking). If you haven’t visited the gallery, you’ll love seeing the variety of art on display.
- Gift shop: The gallery features a charming gift shop, stocked with items made by guild members. Whether it’s a handmade card or silk scarf, stop in to see the always-changing array of items.
- Meetings: The Harbor Art Guild gets together for meetings on the third Monday of each month. They socialize, plan upcoming activities, and invite local artists to come give presentations. To learn about membership, contact them.
- Project night: The guild also hosts a “bring your own art project” night for members on the first Monday of each month. This provides a space and like-minded camaraderie for artists to work on their individual projects.
- Young Artists’ Show: The guild hosts a youth art show at least once a year. Open to all kids under age 21, the show offers a chance for kids to have their work shown to the public and to attend a special reception.
- Little Free Library: The group has brought the trend of “little free libraries” to the Harbor area. The gallery boasts a tiny “library” on a post outside, where anyone walking by can borrow a book. The library was built by guild members, with a beautiful metal-vine entwined post made by local artist Gary Hemenway.
- Shows at the College: The Harbor Art Guild artists regularly show their work at Grays Harbor College. This fall, the art show “Directions” will be up in the John Spellman Library at the college (through late October).
- Artists’ Yard Sale: The guild is known for throwing the “Starving Artists’ Yard Sale” every summer. This popular event is a great place to find all kinds of art supplies at bargain prices.
Again, these are just the guild’s current happenings. Gregory notes that over the years, they’ve also been involved in local events such as the On Track Art Festival and Art About. They have also found creative ways to display art in local businesses throughout the Harbor area (you might remember a heart-themed art contest, sponsored by the Hoquiam Business Association, as one example of their efforts).
The Harbor Art Guild has become a hub of the arts for Grays Harbor County. Proof that they truly foster creativity? The guild has also resulted in a couple of interesting offshoot groups. Guild members formed the Salmonberry Band, a ukulele group (Gregory is a member, playing a colorful hand-painted ukulele). The guild also gave rise to a long-standing poetry open mic night that reads at the gallery monthly. In short, if there’s something creative going on in the Harbor, chances are the Harbor Arts Guild is a part of it.
Visiting Six Rivers Gallery and Gift Shop
Looking for a fun rainy-day activity? Bring your friends or family and stop by the Six Rivers Gallery any time they are open. Open to everyone, the gallery is definitely worth a visit. You can check out the current art exhibit, talk with the volunteers, and browse the gift shop. Everyone is friendly and happy to show you around. You will be truly impressed with the level of local talent.
With the holidays just around the corner, the shop also makes a great place to shop for one-of-a-kind gift items. Gregory notes they’ll be chalk-full of inventory for the holidays. Browsing the gift shop, you can find everything from prints to whimsical items such as handmade dolls and sock monkeys. All the proceeds help keep the gallery running and support the artists’ work.
Keep an eye out too for the gallery’s special events throughout the year, from receptions to kids’ events. And the Harbor Art Guild always makes sure to put on a special show for the Christmas season, so mark your calendars now.
To find out more about the Six Rivers Gallery and the Harbor Art Guild, visit their website and “like” their Facebook page. You can also sign up for their email list to stay up-to-date on current events.
Six Rivers Gallery
210 Sixth Street
Hoquiam, WA 98550
Friday and Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Sunday: 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.