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New photography gallery in Langley shoots for accessible art
Dozens of crystal clear images are framed, matted and hung around Langley’s newest art shop, Poppybank Gallery.
Displayed in the space formerly occupied by Wayward Son, next to Whidbey Island Bank, is the work of Christopher Evans. His wife, Leslie Evans, runs the First Street shop while he handles his day job at Microsoft.
This is the first time either has owned an art gallery, and is the first time he put his work in an exhibit. Poppybank Gallery’s grand opening is today, mere months after they hit the road in their Airstream travel trailer in what she called a “vision quest.”
Originally planned as an open-ended trip between four and 16 months, they were on the road less than 100 days before coming up with the idea to open the gallery.
“We came home early,” Leslie said. “We realized we missed Whidbey.”
One of their main goals with being first-time gallery owners is to make the space inviting and the art accessible. Showing photographs, they hope, is a simple way to draw in people without the anxiety of feeling pressure to buy a piece then and there.
“One of our goals is to not make this intimidating,” Leslie said. “As someone who’s bought expensive art pieces before, I still go in and feel like they’ll think I’m a charlatan.”
The photographs are vibrant with color and focus on thunder and lightning storms in the Midwest, tulip fields in Skagit County, a ferry in Puget Sound, and abstract reflexive images. The latter look like they were cooked up in a digital wizard’s cauldron, and in a sense they were with colors added and a satsuma or a bell pepper with dry ice underneath billowing fumes and smoke mirrored to create a balanced image. All of the other pictures, other than some level adjustments, are the landscapes and subjects Evans saw.
“Anything you see, Chris took a picture of; it wasn’t created,” Leslie said.
She owned up to feeling a bit nervous about opening a gallery in Langley, a city with plenty of galleries already. But she said they don’t know what to expect in terms of sales or visits.
“We are excited to show the work and are hoping other people will be excited too,” she said.
Expanding the city’s already prominent art scene — there are easily a dozen galleries — was seen as a welcome addition by the Langley Chamber of Commerce.
“From the standpoint that many people feel Langley is an arts hub — whether it’s painted, photo, musical, performance — whatever, it honestly doesn’t surprise me,” said Marc Esterly, director of the chamber. “If I had an art gallery and was looking for a location, Langley would be at the top of my list.”
“A vacant spot for business is being filled, and that’s good,” he added.
All of the photographs can be printed in different ways than shown at the gallery. If the photo at the shop is on acrylic, but the customer wants it matted and framed, on canvas or mounted on bamboo or aluminum, that can be worked out between the Evanses and the patron.