Originally Published: June 10, 2013 6 a.m.
PRESCOTT - Life moves pretty fast on Whiskey Row.
It's no different for the Arts Prescott Cooperative Gallery, which celebrates 19 years in business. The local coop was founded in 1994 and has rarely ever had a chance to look back. But they are this month.
In June, the gallery hosts a special show featuring art created by many of their members. The show, themed "Colors of Summer," can currently be found at the gallery, located at 134 South Montezuma Street, throughout the month of June.
Clay artist Janet Childress, one of the gallery's founding members, said the cooperative first began meeting in 1994 in the garage of a member's home. Later that year they moved to their first location in Prescott, then to their current location on Whiskey Row approximately six months later.
"I had been in a coop in Boulder, Colo., for 13 years and knew what it all entailed. We started our business down the street. It was a small little gallery. We got organized and started," Childress said. "At Christmastime that year, I saw there was a real estate company that had gone bankrupt. I jumped in my car because it sounded like it might be on Whiskey Row. It was right Whiskey Row."
Prior to opening, Childress said the town had gone without an artists coop, featuring locally produced fine art and handmade items, for a number of years.
Artist Linne Thomas, a painter and founding member, said volunteers worked long hours to prepare the gallery before it could open for business.
"We had renovated the other gallery, put in new carpeting, scraped down the walls, and months later did the same to this building," Thomas said. "All the artists get their own space. We have space limitations for different media and, once you're juried in, how you use that space is really up to you."
The gallery also grew from 20 members to 30 upon their move to Whiskey Row. There are currently 24 members at the gallery, whose work can be found within the large retail space.
"A lot of our artists have taught at the local colleges here, too. They're quite well known in the community," said jewelry maker Lana Ante.
Criteria for artists under consideration for gallery space include that the artist's work must be different than other art at the gallery; the artist must live within a 50-mile radius and be able to work in the gallery.
"We're always looking for someone with bookkeeping skills, but with artists that can be kind of rare. We also want people who play well with others, which is very important because they become an actual shareholder," Thomas said.
Melody McConaughy, who works in recycled materials, said the gallery reflects the financial pulse for retailers in Prescott.
"If we're doing well, the rest of the town is probably doing well. If we're slow, then there are other people probably going out of business or barely making it. We have an ideal location, lower prices, longevity and we're very stable financially," McConaughy said.
Besides selling their work, the gallery also hosts fundraisers for community organizations every year.
Glass artist and jewelry Vanessa Tamarin moved to Prescott from Los Angeles specifically to be a part of the gallery.
"I was told I'd have a position if I moved here, so I packed up my son and myself and bought a house. It took me six months to build my studio and joined the gallery in January of 1995. The house is almost paid for and the son is an adult," Tamarin said.
The Arts Prescott Cooperative Gallery can be found online at www.artsprescott.com.
Whitehurst on Twitter @pwdcourier.