Olympia has always been known for its appreciation of the arts. The community is rich with talent and diversity in both visual art and performance. The city has become an incubator for creativity and stories of individuals and business reaching out to support the pursuit of self-expression through art have become a common occurrence. The tale of Gallery Boom is no exception.
Gallery Boom is an art gallery and labor of love conceived by artists Christine Malek and P. Calavara. The gallery was named after the Island of Harmony Boom, an art project they built together. It is now owned and operated by Christine. And while the Boom currently boasts 5000 square feet of gallery, art studio, and rentable event space downtown Olympia, it has stayed true to its original commitment to supporting local artists from around the South Sound.
Gallery Boom is located downtown Olympia, WA where over 100 local artists showcase their creations. Photo credit: Gallery Boom
The gallery started as a means to promote books and other merchandise related to the Island of Harmony Boom art project. They opened in 2014 in the former Tumwater Chamber of Commerce building as part of the Incubator Program. They hosted art classes and began showcasing creations of other artists in the area. After two successful years in the space, they were ready to expand into something bigger to continue their mission.
In 2016, Malek had nearly grown weary of searching for space. “Nothing seemed to be the right fit,” she recalled. Then, one day she received a “mysterious message” from someone who thought they might have just the right space. When Christine visited the empty building on Adams Street where Gallery Boom currently resides, she knew it was the one. After plenty of plotting and planning, the new gallery opened on October 1, 2016 just in time for Fall Arts Walk. “We had over 500 people come through that weekend,” she said, “Which felt like more than we had seen in the other space in two years.”
The gallery features art with a variety of applications, like these mosaic address numbers made by Natasha Hays. Photo credit: Rachel Roth
Gallery Boom currently hosts 120 artists from around the area. These talented individuals create a wide variety of artwork. At the gallery, one can purchase anything from a handmade mosaic coaster set to a chandelier made from repurposed vintage glassware. There are small gift items and large paintings. The space is filled with so many wonderfully made items, it is truly inspirational.
Christine has modeled the business after an antique mall. Artists rent spaces per square foot and contribute time on a monthly basis to keep the gallery staffed. There is a one-year commitment for all artists who wish to showcase at Gallery Boom. Art studios are available for rent on an hourly or daily basis. Artisans can rent the Little Boom Room, a gallery within the gallery, to host their own private art show. The smaller studios can also be used for art shows, workshops, and classes.
Gallery Boom founder Christine Malek (right) poses with artist Daisy Curley at Fall Arts Walk in 2016. Photo courtesy: Christine Malek
The gallery features an art supply section called The Art Parts Store. The store is made up of canvas, art prints, frames, paints, fabric and an array of odds and ends. The majority of these items have been donated by artists and others in the community. The store is open during gallery hours. Donations are always welcome.
The space has rotating, themed exhibits, so there is always something new and exciting to see at Gallery Boom. The current collection will be on display May 9 through May 23. These artworks will feature dandelions. The following show, False Skies, will be on display June 20 through July 4. “It is really cool to see how each artist interprets the themes so differently,” says Malek.
Gallery Boom will be participating in this year’s Girls Night Out, a Downtown Olympia shopping experience. Exhibits in the gallery will be themed around Alice in Wonderland. There will be food, crafts, art and Palm Readings by Amelia Romoff. This is a can’t miss event and a great opportunity to support the community. For other upcoming events at Gallery Boom, be sure to sign up for their newsletter and follow them on social media.
Christine’s passion for supporting local artists was apparent as we walked and talked our way through the gallery. Stopping here and there to “ooh” and “ahh” over the inspiring collection of creations. The hard work put forth by people like Malek allows our community to maintain its reputation as an advocate for the arts. Gallery Boom is open six days a week, offering ample opportunities to stop in, say hello and thank her for creating a home for our local artists.