Ashland’s Art & Soul Gallery, owned by four local women painters, held its 20th anniversary party last Friday evening and announced that its First Friday celebration this Friday, Nov. 2, will be its last, as it closes for good Nov. 25.
Their final featured artist, owner and watermedia painter Lynda Hoffman-Snodgrass, notes her “artwork is a culmination and sharing of my life experiences dreams, inner visions and of all that I am.”
The shop owners have been dedicated to supporting artists at Ashland High School, often giving them their first gallery hanging and “giving back and getting them excited about art.”
The shop is unusual in that they are strictly about painting, two-dimensional, no digital, no ceramics or anything else — and they sell prints of displayed works.
Hoffman-Snodgrass arrived here as a young woman and passionate painter 46 years ago and supported herself by working in the legendary Lithia Grocery (now Greenleaf), Cheshire Cat and Gepettos, so she could paint. A native Oregonian, she won her art degree from then-Southern Oregon College in 1978.
“It’s all been amazing, and here I am, the last featured artist in the shop.” What is she going to do when she retires? “Paint!” she exclaims.
She notes that she just won fourth place from the International Society of Experimental Artists. Another highlight of her career was traveling to China to paint with the National Watercolor Society.
Owner Linda Boutacoff, the last original owner from the ‘90s, says, “It’s been a wonderful run, the best chance to show your art and share your vision. Some of the patrons have become lifelong friends. It’s the best gallery in Oregon and always has 25 or 50 people a day come in, even in winter. What am I going to do after we close? Paint more!”
Owner Eve Withrow has been showing her work there for a dozen years, fulfilling her dream five years ago of “owning a really classy gallery. We’ve sold a lot in the area. I like the feel of spontaneity, the flow of it. We’ve made a lot of connections here and will keep them up.”
Judy Richardson is the fourth owner.
At its final First Friday, Art & Soul, as always, will have a yummy table of desserts, snacks and wine in the back, a treat it kept up even during the Crash of ’08, which forced most vino out of the art walk experience. Douglas Ross will be playing dulcimer. The art walk starts at 5. Art & Soul is at 247 East Main St. Its phone number is 541-488-9006.
John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.