A gallery’s farewell in print

She said they will close for good. Funny expression, that.

'Gray Eucalyptus #7' artist Paula Gill uses clay to create a print.

'Gray Eucalyptus #7' artist Paula Gill uses clay to create a print.

She said they will close for good.

Funny expression, that.

Because the closing of the Karlson/Gray Gallery in Langley may seem to most community members as not “for good” at all, but rather bad — a difficult farewell.

After the current printmaking show that runs through Sept. 27, owners Wendy Sundquist and Brian Lowey will close the gallery’s doors.

Karlson/Gray has been open for about two years, having opened in October 2007.

“It is certainly sad that I wasn’t able to continue,” Sundquist said.

“It was a positive experience for me, working with artists and having the support of patrons who consistently purchased art from us. It’s sad to lose those connections, but with the economy and a lot of other things, we kind of hit a perfect storm and had to close.”

But though Karlson/Gray will be gone, Sundquist said Langleyite Rene Neff is interested in taking over the space and creating another art gallery there.

The news was a bit of a happy surprise.

“This just sort of fell out of the air,” Sundquist said.

“I think it’s terrific, and the community will benefit from having it remain a gallery.”

Neff is currently in the process of negotiating a lease for the gallery space.

She recently retired from a 33-year career in teaching and has lived in Langley for 20 years. A Langley City Council member, Neff said she has been looking for a way to contribute to Langley’s goal of fostering arts, culture and education activities as a foundational part of Langley’s economy.

“In my mind, this gallery plays an integral role in Langley’s arts economy, and I did not want to see that end,” Neff said.

“Acquiring the gallery is a way I can contribute and an opportunity for me to pour my energy, enthusiasm and creativity into a business I feel is the backbone and essence of Langley,” she said.

Her plan is to work with Cary Jurriaans, a Langley newcomer who is planning the opening of a fine-arts school on Sept. 26.

“Cary’s school will bring high-caliber art instructors from around the country to town as well as numerous art students each session,” Neff said.

Jurriaans is on board to help Neff curate her new gallery’s shows. The exhibits will focus on representational art.

“We are both extremely excited about the possibilities. I plan to reopen the gallery the first week of November,” Neff added.

If everything goes as planned, she’ll name it the Brackenwood Gallery in honor of Peter and Margaret Camfferman, who maintained an art colony (also called Brackenwood) in Langley which flourished from 1920 until 1957.

Since then, Neff said, Langley has become renowned for the arts, and the Camffermans’ work and efforts led the way.

“I also liked the name Brackenwood because brackens are ferns, and are considered to be one of the oldest (55 million years to be exact) and successful ferns,” she added. “They are found on every continent and in every climate. This seems like a lovely symbol for success and longevity.”

But before the gallery changes hands, art lovers can take one last glimpse at Karlson/Gray and its Art of Printmaking show.

Long before the printing press was invented, there were printmakers — artists who worked by hand with wood or stone to produce images.

Printmaking has little changed since then, still handmade by artists using anything from linoleum to acid-etched plates to produce images filled with subtle surprises.

This gathering of some of the best northwest printmakers showcases the vision, ingenuity and skill of the practitioners of this age-old art.

The show features original handmade prints on paper, clay and fiber by Anne Belov, Francy Blumhagen, Buffy Cribbs, Diane Divelbess, Bridget Fischer, Paula Gill, Carys Hamer, Joyce May, Rebecca Meloy, Bruce Morrow and Sandra Whiting.

For more information, call 221-2978. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

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