Freeland offers new blend of art and business

Real estate and art. If it seems they have nothing in common, Christina Moats will prove that wrong with her new Freeland business, Christina’s Island Real Estate & Fine Art.

Christina Moats opened the only art gallery in Freeland in June. Christina’s Island Real Estate & Fine Art features a variety of island artists

Real estate and art. If it seems they have nothing in common, Christina Moats will prove that wrong with her new Freeland business, Christina’s Island Real Estate & Fine Art.

Moat’s business is the only art gallery in Freeland.

Walking into the business located at 1592 E. Main St. across the street from Payless is like walking into a fancy art gallery. Blown glass vases sit on handmade wood tables below paintings and photographs of local scenes and images from artists’ imaginations. In one corner, sits Moats’ desk where she conducts her real estate work.

“My idea was that people who can afford to buy real estate can buy art,” Moats said. All she needs for her real estate work is a computer and copy machine, so why not fill the rest of her space with art and promote local artists, too?

“Hopefully people who come in to buy real estate on Whidbey will buy Whidbey art,” Moats added.

Moats moved to Whidbey in 1985 to get away from the busy city life.

“I just love the community of people we have here and how people are so willing to help each other,” Moats said. To Moats, being a real estate broker is all about helping people.

“Especially in this economy, when you’re helping someone sell a house they thought they’d spend the rest of their lives in, that can be really hard,” Moats said.

Moats’ goal is to stay upbeat and positive as she helps people buy and sell homes and art. She’s a one woman business, a status she worked hard to achieve. She’s been buying and selling property since 1987 and earned her broker’s license in 2009. Generally, a broker must work for another real estate business for three years before opening their own, but Moats got a variance from the state to open her own business.

“I like having a small firm, just me right now,” Moats said, adding that it allows her to give clients more individualized attention.

Unlike typical co-op galleries, Moats doesn’t require the artists to work in the gallery. She also doesn’t charge a commission.

“So a lot of people said that makes the art more affordable,” Moats said. She also offers free advertising for the artists in real estate publications.

All of the artists came to her through ads she placed on Drew’s List, an email list distributed by Drew Kampion. In return, Moats held a fundraiser for Drew’s List in June because the list is funded by donations and Moats said she respects how much time and thought Kampion puts into his work. She hopes to continue to hold fundraisers twice yearly.

“They’re just a nice bunch of people,” Moats said of the variety of artists represented in the gallery.

Offering photography that he’s turned into hangings and relights is Don Wodjenski. His relights appear three-dimensional because he bends the photo to make light reflect off of it.

Mike Morgan offers his wood tables, cutting boards and benches.

“Everyone said these are too low priced,” Moats said, noting a table that could easily sell for $2,000 is listed at $450.

Jim Warren, who heads Heritage Custom Woodworking, offers his wooden cutting boards and game boards.

Shawn Connolly sells jewelry she made from beads and pendants found on eBay. Necklaces cost $25 with matching earrings for an additional $10. Connolly also offers colorful child-sized bracelets.

Mike O’Connell’s unique work is often described as orbs due to his use of circles, Moats said. In one acrylic collage, he wrote an entire story. Another large acrylic is called “Meanings of Life.”

Fred and Danna Doe add to the originality of the gallery as a married couple, Moats said. Fred Doe offers paintings and Danna Doe sells her photography.

Carlos Xavier offers a special gift with each purchase of his handmade wooden flutes: a free lesson.

“It’s a really wonderful way to get music into a child’s life,” Moats added.

He also carves walking sticks, adding faces to the wood.

Kim Tinuviel was one of the first artists to come to Moats.

“So she is very special to me,” Moats said. Tinuviel sells her photography.

Joann Peterson creates art in the sumi-e Japanese style.

“They’re always natural themes in sumi-e art,” Moats said, pointing out the birds in Peterson’s art.

Moats also welcomed the Blessing Project, headed by Debra Aaron. Aaron travels around the world to places of extreme poverty and purchases beads, cloth and more made by the women there. Then she returns home and delivers the materials to homebound women who make shadowboxes with sayings out of the materials.

“So these are women who live in extreme poverty and could never have money without what they sell through the Blessing Project,” Moats said. All of the money raised goes toward purchasing more materials from women in poverty.

Gary Berner, a dentist in Oak Harbor and a glassblower, has his vases, bowls and more in the gallery.

Jessie Lyle designs T-shirts with “fancy” images in both adult and child sizes.

Tammi Sloan makes jewelry through My Brown Wren. Her silver and copper jewelry are available at the gallery.

Moats is even an artist herself, and sells her wildlife photography.

“Everyone’s contributing to the success of the gallery and real estate office,” Moats said, adding that she enjoys the wide variety of artists.

“We have a combination of people who are well-known and people who aren’t. So we’re giving everybody a fair chance to be seen,” Moats said.

Moats said she plans for the art and real estate portions of her business to help each other, as she helps the community. She has countless stories of assisting community members during housing struggles. One of her favorites is about a Navy man.

“He had never had a home. He’d lived on ships and bases the whole 20 years and he wanted to have a dog,” Moats said. She searched for homes for him for months in between deployments and finally found a home in Oak Harbor.

“He was so happy to finally have a home,” Moats said. When he drove to meet her and she saw a cute dog in the car, that was the icing on the cake for Moats.

“That’s why I’m in real estate. To help people do those kinds of things. And to help them become a part of the community and learn about Whidbey,” Moats said.

When people visit the gallery, Moats said she hopes they come in looking for gifts. With such a variety of types of art, Moats said she’s sure people will find what they’re looking for.

“My real estate business is about helping people through challenging parts of their lives through giving them personalized, individual attention, and helping the artists along the way,” Moats said.

Moats has room for more artists. Specifically, she would like to find watercolor, ceramics and clothing artists.

For more information and gallery hours, call the gallery at 221-0989.

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