The Tacoma community is home to more local art than what Pacific Lutheran’s University Gallery displays.

The Proctor Art Gallery, located in the heart of the historic Proctor Business District in downtown Tacoma, is home to a wide variety of different styles of art created by a number of local artists.

The Proctor Art Gallery is located at 3811 N 26th St. in Tacoma's Proctor Business District. It is open daily.
The Proctor Art Gallery is located at 3811 N 26th St. in Tacoma’s Proctor Business District. It is open daily. Photo by Blake Jerome.

The gallery features work in watercolor, oil, acrylic, mixed media, jewelry, pottery, glass, metal and wood.

Carolyn Burt founded the gallery in 2008 and since its opening, she has seen about 400-600 visitors per month.

“I taught art at every level for 24 years,” Burt said. “After retiring I decided to fulfill my dream of opening an art gallery.”

The gallery uses a cooperative (co-op) business model, meaning its members voluntarily work together in order to showcase their work in the store. The gallery’s 18 members each work two shifts per month and attend regular events at the gallery in order to meet and greet with potential customers.

Burt said retail galleries usually charge the artists a 50 percent commission on each sale. However, because her business is a co-op, she only charges the artists 10 percent on each sale. Artists must also pay a minimal monthly rental fee for their space in the gallery.

Anyone interested in becoming a member of the Proctor Art Gallery must apply and then go through a jury selection process. Other artists, however, prefer to sell their work on consignment, which means the artist is subject to retail fees.

“Pacific Lutheran University art students are welcome to apply to our gallery. We are always looking for connections within the community,” Joni Joachims, a local jeweler and five-year gallery member, said. “We pride ourselves on only accepting quality work. However, it isn’t an easy gallery to become a member of.”

The Tacoma Weekly and South Sound Magazine voted the Proctor Art Gallery the best art gallery in Tacoma in 2012. The gallery also placed fifth in the King 5 best of Western Washington contest for “Best Art Gallery.”

“The art featured is nice, but it isn’t unaffordable,” Joachims said. “Our art ranges in price from $10 all the way up to $2,000. We even offer a layaway program.”

Expertise, reputation of the artist and time spent are some of the factors that determine how much a specific piece is valued at.

“Every artist here has fans who come in to see their work,” Joachims said.

“Art feeds the soul and mankind was born to create,” Burt said. “Overcoming the fear of what someone will think of your work and the fear of being rejected is the difficult part of the art process.”

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