As I arrive at Mountain Arts Collective’s soft opening on a gorgeous October Saturday morning, landscape and wildlife photographer Doug Jones is busily organizing the front desk while fiber artist Nancy Beckert arranges her jewelry pieces throughout the gallery.
“Our vision is to provide quality products by artists who are closely connected to the local community and surrounding environment.”
Suddenly in walks Gabriela O’Neil to celebrate the collective’s first sale: a glass dragonfly pendant. In collaboration with fine woodworker Dan Gaube and knitter Rebecca Maidman, these area craftsmen have opened a new artist cooperative in the Truckee Depot in central historic downtown.
Gallery Opening Dec. 1 | 5-9 p.m. | Truckee Depot | Truckee
The gallery owners had first joined forces in 2009 at the Artisan’s Market Place in nearby Brickelltown on the west end of downtown Truckee. This co-op-style market featured 18 artists of various disciplines. However, the site closed in 2016 due to a combination of increased rent and lack of foot traffic during a period of downtown reconstruction projects.
“We’ve all been keeping our ears open ever since,” says Beckert. “This time we jumped right on it right away and everything fell into place. The five of us will each be managing the gallery at least one day a week, so customers have an opportunity to speak with each representative artist about their work. It’s like a co-op in that we’ll be sharing the rent and taking turns working.”
The vision of the collective is to provide an array of quality artisan products made by and for Tahoeites.
“Our vision is to provide quality products by artists who are closely connected to the local community and surrounding environment,” says Gaube. “Our mission is to create a dynamic space with artwork that will cater to all types, from a homeowner looking for the perfect high-end statement piece to local customers looking for affordable gifts to buy for friends and family. We want to keep the space fresh so that returning customers will see exciting, new and unique products each time they come in.”
The collective plans are to feature a different guest artist each month on a consignment basis in order to highlight the talents of the local community.
“We want to bring in the very good work of people that we know and give them a place to show what they spend so much time on,” says Beckert. “We will introduce local artists who are looking for an outlet. That way they become the focus each month as a way for them to become known around the town. We’re trying to do a little bit of everything.”
Throughout the morning, a consistent flow of window shoppers pops in to peruse the new space, sip on apple cider and chat with the friendly hosts. The artists hope their central location will provide a steady stream of customers to their fledgling business.
“It’s difficult in downtown Truckee since the rents are so expensive,” says Jones. “But we believe this space at the train station is ideal for a small group of us.”
As the hum of a bus fades away, the artists have a quiet moment to themselves to look around their new space where Gaube’s handmade lamps illuminate a wall of photos and shelf of glass, jewelry and paintings. They smile and take it all in with contentment. But before long, they are spiritedly working around the space again, happy to be open for business in the community they love.
“I felt more a part of Truckee and happenings in town when we had the Artisan’s Market Place,” says Beckert. “We’re all looking forward to becoming members of the downtown Truckee community again.”