Work to complete the 16,500 square-foot Aberdeen Art Center at 200 W. Market St., (the old Eagles building at Market and K), continues as proprietor Douglas Orr secures a tenant for the Alder Grove Gallery so its collection can be re-situated.
“It’s a nicer space,” Orr said about the center. “More windows, more pleasant and more visible from Wishkah.”
Orr grew up in Grays Harbor but moved to Long Beach, Calif., where he opened the 25,000-square-foot EXPO Arts Center.
The gallery moved into a commercial building that once housed a furniture store, and was one of the businesses integral to helping the blighted Long Beach commercial area find renewed interest. The lease from the city of Long Beach for the building — which had been empty for eight years and destined for demolition — was $1 a year.
“The business community as well as the city had to buy into what we were trying to do or it wouldn’t have gone anywhere,” he said.
A fundraiser allowed Orr to introduce the business to the community featuring artists, restaurants and jazz bands.
“That was the start of a monthly draw of over 12,000 visitors to the area and the center,” he said.
Orr stressed that he’d like to help make the same sort of downtown renaissance happen here in Aberdeen.
“The Aberdeen Art Center can be one of a group of programs that could help to spur on new growth and additional interest in downtown Aberdeen and Grays Harbor,” Orr said.
Its grand opening event was part of this year’s Art Walk. And social media attracted people to the location — there have been more than 300 visits logged during June and July. Some of those visitors have been tourists, Orr said.
The Aberdeen Redevelopment Movement, Our Aberdeen and the Harbor Art Guild are using the center’s conference room.
It’s one way, Orr said, “to increasing the awareness of the center.”
The large Aberdeen location will be the site for classes, youth art camps, art in the community programs, downtown phantom galleries, and other workshops and seminars, he said.
On the center’s web site — http://www.aberdeenartcenter.com/ — is a calendar of art events around the Harbor and another way to create interest that would allow the arts community to flourish as well, Orr said.
Orr also served as the executive director of Ocean Shores Chamber of Commerce after he returned to the Harbor from Southern California.
Alder Grove right now is featuring a collection of different types of art including driftwood and steam punk, by local artists. Gallery Hours are Fri, Sat and Sun between 4 to 8 p.m.