New Gallery Hopes to Revitalize Yelm’s Art Scene

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Yelm now features a dedicated place for fine arts in the form of a new business, which hopes to be a revitalizing force for the arts scene in Yelm.

The InGenius! Local Artisan Gallery & Boutique will showcase local artistry with a starting lineup of artisans from Yelm, Rainier, Tenino, Rochester and Chehalis.

Andrea Levanti, co-owner and featured artist of the gallery, said people are hungry for a venue like InGenious.

“The people who have been coming in already feel like the arts has been something that Yelm has tried and tried to have featured, highlighted (and) valued. And it has been, always, but for a while there hasn’t been a place for people to go knowing that it is fine art,” Levanti said, adding that venues like Between Sisters Boutique and Gifts, and the Yelm Farmers Market have always been great places to see the works of local artisans. “Yelm is where my heart is and I feel like a lot of people value a specific place to art in Yelm.”

A selection of local honey products, soaps and other hand-crafted gift items will be featured in addition to an art gallery’s standard fare of works in oil, watercolor, pencil, colored pencil, glass, leather, fiber, wood and more. The gallery will also feature live music and custom framing for artists and consumers alike.

Already open for business, InGenious is located at 207 First St. S., in Yelm across from Yelm City Park, where JZ Rose used to be housed. The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

The business first opened in Roy, but Levanti said InGenious found a better location in Yelm, which has better visibility.

The gallery also encompasses the storefront next door to the one that’s open now, and will be expanding to that studio as soon as the needs of the Yelm community are identified and the gallery can devise a strategy to meet them. In all, the space amounts to a combined 1,800 square feet.

“We all have genius lying either latent or not within us,” Levanti said. “So we’re going to have classes and things to help people that feel blocked.”

InGenious encourages folks to stop by weekly to see new artisans which may have been added as featured artists, and prospective artisans need only stop by the store during business hours to pick up an application to possibly gain a spot in the lineup.

“Creative self expression — which is important for everybody and that nobody should judge their abilities whatever they choose to express — is unique and beautiful,” Levanti said. “Some people have been daring enough to go out in the world and share it with other people.”

She said she wants the galley to kindle the capacity for art that everyone holds deep inside.

“We all have a spark in us that we want to share and not everybody has the courage to do that,” Levanti said. “Some of us do it in spite of ourselves and it’s just this thing that happens and we don’t really mean to. I want everyone in the community to feel like this is a place where everyone’s spark is respected.”

Craftsman and musician Diego Fleitas and Levanti herself created InGenius, which has encapsulated Levanti’s previous venture, Gossamer Lane Fine Art.

Fleitas moved to the area from South Florida in 2019. He hopes to contribute to the local music scene and put his carpentry skills to work for the business, according to a news release.  Levanti has been in the Yelm area since 2001 and has been a contributor to the Drew Harvey Theater and Rainier High School theater program as well as the Yelm Food Co Op community outreach program.

InGenious will hold its grand opening celebration at 11 a.m. Friday, July 30, with refreshments.  Mayor JW Foster and the Yelm Chamber of Commerce will conduct a ribbon-cutting ceremony at that time. The community is encouraged to come out and take part in the festivities, Levanti said.

Fleitas and Levanti believe the importance of creative self-expression cannot be underestimated, according to the release.

“We want artisans to be treated as important as they are, to be valued based on their gifts,” Fleitas stated in the release. “In times where cheap, low quality materials and products are imported from other countries, we need to learn how to build our own with high quality standards, always evolving even our techniques and tools beyond how things have always been done.”

Contact Levanti at 360-999-9216 or ingeniusgallery@gmail.com for more information.

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