The City of Rainier Arts Commission has established the location of its flagship art gallery, but it is still in search of items to fill it with.

The arts commission wants the gallery to be open on the first and third Saturdays of the month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., a feat that is going to require the community to fill the room with artwork.

“We are slowly trying to get this gallery space going,” said Dennis McVey, chairman of the commission. “It’s a noncommercial gallery. This is not where you go to buy or sell your paintings … This is just a place to display things from students of the school district or local artists (that) make anything from a painting to a drawing to blown glass, to woodcarving or stone carving.”

Art Gallery

An entry in the the art contest from earlier this year. 

Another topic that will need to be addressed is staffing. The Arts Commission is looking for likeminded individuals who will volunteer their time when the gallery is open. This type of staffing isn’t new to Rainier — the library used to operate this way. In particular, the volunteers would have to be willing to ensure all the art is safe, and to answer any questions that the public might have. These volunteers could be the artists themselves, or helpful community members.

The gallery, which has been a vision of the commission for several months, will be located in the basement of the Rainier School District building, a show of unity between the city and the school district, McVey said.

“This property, of course, belongs to the school district,” he said. “They are letting us use it rent free. What the city did was take out a rider on their liability insurance so if anything should happen, the school district is not involved and it will be on the city. We don’t anticipate anything like that, but you never know.”

McVey said he spoke with the superintendent, and together they discussed the idea of bringing art classes to take tours of the gallery once everything fills up in an effort to help appreciate the art, but also to inspire the students.

The idea was even kicked around that there could be art classes offered on the weekends or evenings that families might want to participate in. These classes could be on anything, from pastels or chalk art to painting or drawing. The possibilities are only limited by the imagination, McVey said.

In addition, this overall idea was a decade in the making.

Art Gallery

A young child submitted this piece of art is a contest early this year. It is now located at the gallery.

The city of Rainier has tried to establish its Arts Commission for about 10 years and didn’t have much luck — it was a matter of community involvement, McVey said.

But then a little group called We Love Rainier Wa formed about a year ago and began spurring Rainier community members into action. This organization helped encourage folks to fill the Arts Commission, which had sat empty ever since its formation about a decade ago. 

“So last November the city actually (filled) the arts commission and they have five members … working together to do things to make Rainier a better place to live,” McVey said. “Not that it’s not already a great place to live, but to make it better.”

With the art gallery, the Rainier Arts Commission is attempting to inject more culture into the everyday lives of the community. The people that live in Rainier like their schools, like their teachers and like their sports, McVey said, but the commission is trying to give them something else to enjoy also — why not match the diversity of the city with the diversity of its culture?

“I think it’s important for a town like Rainier because of the diversity of the people we have here,” he said. “We have loggers, we have craftsmen, we have teachers, we have state workers, we have federal workers, we have military workers. You name it, it lives here.”

Any citizen of south sound cities such as Rainier, Yelm, Tenino, Bucoda or Rochester can feel free to enter art into this gallery. Those interested can call McVey at 360-446-3111.

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