There is something peaceful and serene about entering an art gallery. Like a library or museum, you feel the need to whisper without being told. The quietness helps you absorb the art better, to listen to what it’s trying to tell your soul. And in parts of the world like our own, where grey days feel like they outnumber the sunny ones, an art gallery can be a beautiful respite to the winter blues. In November 2019, Jan Swan opened The Rowan Tree Gallery, an art gallery in Aberdeen, Washington.
Although not originally from Grays Harbor, Jan was called to the area after living in many places. “I grew up in Boulder, Colorado, lived in Boston, Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico, and in San Francisco,” she shares. “I moved here in the fall of 2018. I moved to Aberdeen mainly because I wanted to get back to the Pacific Ocean coast. I found Aberdeen affordable and was encouraged to move here because it has an art center.”
The Aberdeen Art Center is a wonderfully designed, 8,500-square-foot space “dedicated to building a better community by empowering local artists to create, show and sell their art.” The center is home to galleries, including The Rowan Tree Gallery, as well as Grays Harbor Video Productions, Art-in-the Community Programs, and Friends of Aberdeen Museums. It also has classrooms and meeting spaces. The Center hosts events like the annual Aberdeen Rain Glow Festival and First Friday Art Walks, where they offer artist demonstrations, free art classes, snacks and live music.
Jan is an artist herself, painting mostly abstract animals in oil. The idea for a gallery came to her after her sister’s passing. “I initially opened an art gallery to exhibit my sister’s art,” she explains. “My sister, Mary Rowan Quinn, passed away and left me a lot of her amazing fiber art pieces, which I wanted to get out into the world.” She found Aberdeen a great place to open her gallery, with relatively inexpensive retail rent and a great supportive culture at the Aberdeen Art Center.
She named the gallery after her sister’s middle name. “In Celtic mythology, Rowan trees are believed have magical protective qualities,” she explains. “It seemed appropriate for a gallery exhibiting my sister’s work.”
Her exhibits are modern art in form, and she has so far had a mix of local artists as well as artists from the Puget Sound area, though she is planning on expanding that geography this year. “I have a solo exhibit planned in the late summer of an extraordinary New Mexico artist,” Jan shares. “I would like to bring in art from areas other than Grays Harbor to offer people here exposure to what artists are doing nationally, and even internationally. I believe as the gallery becomes better known, it will attract a wider variety of artists from around the country.”
She does group themed shows throughout the year as well. Artists can watch her social media, The Rowan Tree Gallery Facebook page, for her “Call for Art” for these shows. She also send this out via email and through the Artist Trust, a group that is designed to support and encourage artists working throughout Washington State.
In addition to art, you can find gift items at The Rowan Tree Gallery, including blown glass ornaments, smalls sculptures and lighted glass ornaments.
Jan is also the secretary/treasurer for the Harbor Art Guild. The Harbor Art Guild was created in 2008 to bring Grays Harbor artists together, hold events, place art in local venues and promote art in youth.