By Elena Olmstead for TCAJOB
[blockquote quote="We had to vacate the building. We lost a good 80 percent of everything." source="Carol Ashby, Sixth Street Art and Gift Gallery Owner" align="right" max_width="300px"]Prosser’s Carol Ashby has owned Sixth Street Art and Gift Gallery for more than 10 years. Over the past decade she’s become known to many as the Prosser Art Chick – working with galleries and artists throughout the Northwest to gather art for her shop. But this past summer, a major rainstorm led to a flooded building and inches of mud covering the floors of the her shop and gallery - it looked like it might put a damper on her business and the local art scene in Prosser.
But Ashby wasn’t going to let a little water stop her from doing what she loves. Just four months after closing her doors, she found a new location and has been welcoming in a flood of artists and customers ever since. Sixth Street Art and Gift Gallery is now located at 702 Sixth St., on the corner of Sixth Street and Meade Avenue in downtown Prosser. Ashby’s shop is at the same corner as Prosser’s sidewalk clock — one of the busiest thoroughfares in downtown. It’s just a half a block away from her original location.
Ashby has always been an art lover. She didn’t always know as much about art as she does now, but she knew enough to know that it was important to her. So ten years ago when she heard Prosser’s only art gallery, Hang Ups, was closing she had to do something about it to keep art in Prosser. So in December 2005, she opened Sixth Street Art and Gift Gallery.
Since then, she has worked hard to foster art in the area. She focuses on promoting local artists and works closely with the local schools to ensure that their artists have a place to display their work. Walking through her shop, you can see that no matter what it is she’s selling, it’s made in the Pacific Northwest.
Her shop is filled with a mix of antique furniture – some items are beautifully preserved antiques brought in by Norma Jeans and the rest are old pieces that have been brought back to life by Revamped Furniture and Décor. She also features locally-produced gourmet foods ranging from caramels and honey and to coffee. And then there is the never-ending supply of art.
Ashby carries a wide-range of art in different mediums – ranging from jewelry pieces put together by Denise Spaman of Timeless Talismans to recycled glass sculptures created by Alice Beckstrom. She also has a gallery section filled with paintings from various local artists. Ashby said she has a pool of more than 70 artists who produce pieces for her shop.
“We have everything from youth art – we try to give them a place to display their work – to (pieces by) very well known artists like Consuelo Soto Murphy,” Ashby said. With everything she carries in her shop, Ashby was devastated when her original shop and gallery space was flooded by a major rainstorm in Mary. A major rainstorm waterlogged her shop, bringing in water, mud and muck. “We had to vacate the building,” Ashby said. “We lost a good 80 percent of everything.”
The building Ashby occupied consisted of two shops — her art gallery and gift shop and the space on the corner that used to house Prosser Mercantile. Both shops had to be vacated so repairs could be made to the building. While it was heartbreaking to see so many beautiful things ruined by the water, Ashby never thought about giving up. She knew she was going to get Sixth Street Art and Gift Gallery back up and running. She didn’t realize then that she would have so much help. On Sept. 1, Ashby was given the keys to her new corner location – it’s a move that puts her in the center of the action – and by the third weekend of the month she was open for business. She opened for the first time during the community’s Great Prosser Balloon Rally.
Ashby said getting her space ready was a huge undertaking, and something people throughout the community and the local art world had a hand in. “Every brush stroke on these walls was done by a community member or artist who said – I have an hour, give me a paint brush,” Ashby said. “They have an investment here. They’re part of it.” One person in particular who touched Ashby with their generous help was Michael Berg of You and I Framing in Kennewick. Ashby said Berg surprised her and came in for two days in a row to help paint and get the building ready. He hadn’t had a day off in three weeks and then chose to spend the time away from his shop helping Ashby prepare hers.
Now that her space is open, filled with beautiful things with various artists coming in and out of the shop, Ashby is turning her attention to some new opportunities. Just before her original space flooded, Ashby had started offering once a month art classes. That’s something she is continuing to grow in her new location. Once a month, she is bringing in an artist to offer classes to anyone who’s interested. In November, she hosted a wine glass painting class, where people came in and painted their own pair of wine glasses. People can come in with no art experience and leave with a piece they created themselves.
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Sixth Street Art and Gift Gallery is located is 702 Sixth St. in Prosser. The shop is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday. It is closed Monday and Tuesday. For more information, call the shop at 509-781-6220 or follow Sixth Street Art and Gift Gallery on Facebook.
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