Paint Ellensburg's featured artists this year are professional artists and artists with disabilities who partnered together to create pieces of art to be auctioned off.
Paint Ellensburg is Gallery One's annual fundraiser and a celebration of art. Gallery One partnered with Elmview, a nonprofit organization serving developmentally disabled adults in Ellensburg in the effort.
Gallery One Director Monica Miller said the idea to pair Elmview clients with local artists made sense because this year marks Elmview's 50th anniversary.
"We thought it would be a good idea to highlight the creativity of artists in the area with disabilities," she said. "To do that, what we did was pair 14 artists with disabilities with professional artists to create collaborations to show the power of community and the relationships."
Most of the collaborations are already on display in Gallery One.
Gallery One offers classes for all abilities, including classes for teens with disabilities and an open workshop for adults with disabilities. A lot of the students in those classes, Miller said, are involved with the Elmview community.
"We invited Gallery One staff and artist residents and Elmview employees to work with artists in both classes," Miller said.
Artist Justin Gibbens, who also works for Elmview and teaches art classes at Gallery One, helped with the pairings. Forming the partnerships was kind of like matchmaking, he said, and because there was such a large interest from mentors and artists. There was a short interview so organizers could see who would work well together and who had similar interests.
Gibbens' personal art is based on classic wildlife illustrations and is primarily watercolor and ink.
"I call it subversive natural history because it's like wildlife with a twist," he said. "It's Audubon meets Dr. Seuss."
Gibbens was paired with someone he had worked with previously through Elmview's home care program, and was able to incorporate that style into the piece. The two were both interested in insects and bugs, so they started drawing bugs together.
“He has a lot of rubber bugs and he’ll set them out,” Gibbens said. “We get some watercolor paper out and work on a painting and pass it back and forth.”
Most of the artwork produced is two-dimensional, either paintings or drawings, but there is also a fabric piece, a necklace and some ceramic work available.
“For me it’s exciting to bring both experiences that I have not only in the caregiving realm, but also in the realm of making art and realizing that something really powerful can happen when you entertain both of those things,” he said.
Artists in Action
About 18 artists will take their canvases and tools to various Ellensburg businesses and street corners downtown today to make a piece of art during Gallery One’s Artists in Action event.
Gallery One brought back the Artists in Action last year after a five-year hiatus.
“There are a number of activities throughout the weekend where we hope to engage the community and expose them to the artists’ process,” Miller said, adding that Artists in Action is one way to accomplish that goal.
Artists met at Gallery One this morning to check in, and started working in various locations at 9 a.m. Their day wraps up around 5 p.m.
“It’s an opportunity for people in Ellensburg to experience the creative bounty that we have here,” Miller said. “Whether or not they’re coming to the auction, I’d like to invite everyone to come out on Friday to meet the artists.”
The Paint Ellensburg auction is Gallery One’s biggest fundraiser of the year. Tickets to the auction are sold out.
As of Sept. 9, there were 145 items donated to be auctioned. A majority of those items are pieces of art, some from local artists and some from Seattle. The art from the Elmview artists will also be auctioned off.
Mary Francis, Gallery One’s former director who started Paint Ellensburg, has donated a piece of her art, sent from Idaho. Another woman whose high school teacher exhibited at the gallery over 20 years ago donated a piece.
“We have layers and generations who have participated in the gallery who donate,” Miller said.
People also will have a chance to bid on desserts donated by 12 local businesses in the cake auction.
Other items from local businesses being auctioned include a night at the Flying Horseshoe Ranch, Suncadia experiences, and a dozen drinks and use of the back room at Starlight, among others.
Miller said she’s hoping the auction will raise about $45,000 in support of the arts. A majority of the gallery costs are covered by sponsorship and ticket sales, but money also will go toward programming, operating expenses and scholarships.