In the heart of the Proctor District is a must-experience treasure trove of art called Proctor Art Gallery at 3811 N. 26th St. Featuring artists from throughout the Pacific Northwest (but mostly the local area), the gallery is full of paintings, jewelry, sculptures, mixed-media and more, all beautifully displayed with a keen eye for showcasing each collection at its best.
For 10 years Proctor Art Gallery has enjoyed popularity among art lovers of all stripes, and Saturday, Jan. 26 has been designated as the day to celebrate the gallery’s first decade in business. Owner/manager Pamela Phelps consulted with the gallery’s resident artists and together they came up with a fun way to thank customers – swag bags. From 1-5 p.m. that day, with a minimum purchase customers will be gifted with a swag bag containing a piece of unique art by one of the gallery artists, gift certificates and discount coupons at Proctor businesses like free appetizers at Pomodoro Italian Restaurant and Bar, a 20 percent off coupon at Museum Quality Framing, and more.
There are 40 swag bags available, so arrive early to get yours. And, if you can’t make it on Jan. 26, customers who make a minimum $100 purchase from now until that day will be entered into a swag bag raffle.
“All of these ideas are from brainstorming with our resident artists,” Phelps said, combined with her teaming up with her fellow business owners in the Proctor District Association and the Proctor Arts Fest committee. In fact, Proctor Art Gallery’s very existence relies on the 18 resident artists who display and sell their works at the gallery. As part of their contract, the artists pay rent and agree to work two days a month staffing the gallery. The artists retain 90 percent of their sales, with 5 percent going toward marketing and 5 percent as profit that Phelps uses to make improvements to the shop. The artists are free to change up their space to keep it fresh and introduce new pieces. The first Tuesday of every month, the artwork is re-hung and the showroom floor re-designed so that the gallery is always changing and looking fresh and bright.
“The artists are the face of the gallery and that really set us apart,” Phelps said. “You get to meet and talk to the artists and hear about the insight the artist had when creating that piece so when you take it home, it means a lot more. That’s something you won’t find when you buy art online.”
Herself a jewelry artist (search “Pamela Phelps-Designs” on Facebook) and watercolorist, Phelps purchased the gallery in 2016 from original owners/artists Carolyn Burt and Chuck Gorley (Burt continues, though, as one of the gallery’s resident artists). Having already been a resident artist at the gallery since 2013, Phelps came in with a solid knowledge of how the business works and what the artists’ needs are. She also gave the gallery a nice interior facelift.
“I took everything and really boosted it,” as Phelps described it.
Third Thursday Art Walk evenings make the perfect time to visit Proctor Art Gallery. “We participate in third Thursday Art Walk so I have three artists that I feature a month and they get front billing in the front window displays, and I do a cocktail party meet and greet,” Phelps said. “The artists invite people to see their new body of work and it’s really been exciting. Our customers know and expect this event on third Thursdays every month.”
The gallery also holds an open house at Christmas and customer appreciation events in June. Reaching out to the broader community, Proctor Art Gallery has donated to a University of Puget Sound therapy group auction, to Hilltop Artists Arts Connect 2 program, and has done a fundraiser for MultiCare for the past four years.
Another reflection of Phelps’ gallery ownership is its tagline that she created: “Art Connects Us.”
“What I talk to our artist all the time about is the difference between a customer experience and customer service. We’ve done a big shift in the past couple years to focus on the experience people have when they’re in the presence of art,” Phelps said, and that is certainly what you will find at Proctor Art Gallery.
The gallery is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visit www.ProctorArt.com or call (253) 759-4238 for more information.