Lofty goal for new art gallery
Co-op aims to make Benicia destination for out-of-town collectors
By Keri Luiz
“We are the miracle on First Street,” Pam Dixon, founder of the Gallery 621 artists’ co-op, said recently of the downtown space that will have its grand opening this Friday.
“Why? Because it’s not supposed to happen in Benicia, or any small town. So this is a gallery that has significant artwork available to purchase, and the price tag goes right along with it.”
A cooperative enterprise featuring contributions of significant local artists wouldn’t happen under normal circumstances, Dixon said. But its creation is one positive outcome of the current economy.
The big-name local artists who would normally send their work across the country are not doing so these days because of the money it costs to ship and insure their pieces, Dixon said. Even after that expense, the work may not sell.
Because of this and the artists’ desire to have a bigger presence in Benicia’s downtown area, Gallery 621 was created.
Gallery 621’s goal is nothing less than making Benicia a significant destination for art collectors to come visit on a regular basis.
“Our purpose is to make ourselves very visible to art collectors in Benicia, a place to think about to come to collect art,” Dixon said.
“We’re re-invigorating the art walks. Eventually we will do the art walks on the second Saturday of the month. This is to draw art collectors from outside the area. ”
Holding art walks on the second Saturday would overcome the hurdle of crossing the bridges to get to Benicia, Dixon said. Visitors are more likely to come on a Saturday than a Friday, she said.
She said Gallery 621 is working in cooperation with other galleries and establishments in the downtown area — such as The Rellik Tavern, Benicia Plein Air Gallery, Studio 41, Java Point, Shirocos, Lindsey Art Glass and Olson Realty — to show visitors how rich the art culture in Benicia truly is.
They want to keep art “fresh in the eyes of the art collector,” Dixon said. They plan to exchange art with other galleries in the North Bay, like Quicksilver Mine Co. Gallery out of Forestville.
“In this economy, we have to work together to keep it fresh, to keep it fun,” she said. “This will give our artists much more exposure.”
For artist and co-op member Jerrold Turner, Gallery 621 “fell out of heaven.”
“A few of us got hit — oh! That’s a good idea,” he said. “Benicia could really stand to have a gallery like this.”
The gallery had a soft opening in June, but saved its gala grand opening for this Friday.
Member artists Nikki Basch-Davis, Carol Dalton, Dixon, Turner, Lisa Reinertson, Jack Ruszel, Catherine Erickson, Mike Kendall, Hedi Desuyo, Lee Wilder Snider, Stevenson Dunlop, Sharon Payne Bolton and Stan Dann — along with guest artist Robert Hudson — will display their work.
The event begins at 5 p.m. and runs until 8 p.m. at 621 First St., with live music by Julia Harrell, percussionist, as well as hors d’oeuvres and wine tasting.
“It’s going to be huge,” said Linda Stevenson Dunlop, an artist and co-op member.
“There’s been such an excitement that a gallery would want to open in these economic times.”