Artist Debra Van Tuinen’s New Olympia Gallery Offers Much Needed Light and Inspiration
By Hillary Ryan
Showcase Magazine, Spring 2021
Layers of blue, grey and silver leaf create deep and translucent layers that almost obscure the tiny boat in Debra Van Tuinen’s “Adrift” which is currently on view at her new gallery in downtown Olympia. The work, which seems to change from different angles, was created during the long months of the pandemic. For Van Tuinen, it reflects the creating waves of confusion and deep sense of isolation many people struggled with and experienced in 2020.
Additionally, as travel restrictions limit explorations and adventures, it is through her work that new views can be found and savored. Focused on the personal exploration of landscape, many of these works can transport you instantaneously to other places for that much needed change of scenery.
Van Tuinen Gallery
Quick studio shots left a lasting impression of the powerful energy of internal and external landscapes when I dropped by Debra's studio last weekend.
By Molly Gilmore, Contributing Writer
August 26, 2020 05:45 AM
Olympia, Washington artist Debra Van Tuinen has opened a new gallery and studio in the Views on Fifth development on the downtown isthmus. By Tony Overman
Light fascinates Olympia artist Debra Van Tuinen. Her paintings glow, evoking the play of light on water.
“Van Tuinen’s paintings possess radiance,” art critic Doug Meyer wrote in a review on the artist’s website. “They bask in the reflected light of a physical universe beyond the picture plane.”
The artist’s love of light is evident in her new downtown Olympia studio and gallery at 429 Fourth Ave. W. The corner space, with abundant windows and 14-foot ceilings, is filled with paintings inspired by Northwest landscapes and executed in encaustic and in oil over acrylic.
Opening a gallery in the middle of a pandemic might seem a strange choice, but it makes perfect sense to Van Tuinen.
“It’s been an interesting year,” she told The Olympian. “Everything that was supposed to happen was postponed, so I felt more of a need to have a gallery here in town.”
Among the postponed shows was a major one at Woodward Canyon Winery in Lowden, Washington, to celebrate the release of the 2017 Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon with her work on the label.
It’s just one of many honors she’s achieved through her career. She was invited to the Florence Biennale in 2004, and her art has been hung in U.S. embassies. Locally, she created the art for the first Arts Walk map cover in 2000.
Her work is sold in galleries across the country as well as one in Canada, but most of those have been closed for months due to the coronavirus, and sales have been few.
Meanwhile, Van Tuinen has been continuing to sell her own work to Western Washington buyers and wanted a place where people could come to see her pieces.
The space holds many of her signature large paintings, some measuring 60 or 66 inches square, but also displays some new pieces as small as 3-by-3 inches. A cabinet holds watercolor prints.
Since moving into the new studio, she said, she’s already sold a few large pieces.
“I’m enjoying having people come back and having their friends come,” she said. “Even with masks and social distancing, people still want to come and see the work. There’s a lot of interest.”
She hasn’t had an Olympia gallery since 2008, when the recession led her to close her space on Market Street. After that, she spent a few years in Portland before returning to Olympia and working in the garage of her home.
“My studio was really hot in the summertime and really cool in the wintertime,” she said. “I was looking for a better spot to work, and so many people wanted to see the work, and it’s hard to show it at home.”
She needed more space, she added, and the space in Views on Fifth provides that: What would have been the kitchen of the live/work space has been opened up to serve as a flexible studio space, and what was intended as a small bedroom is filled with more paintings.
“I’m feeling really good about being there,” she said.
DEBRA VAN TUINEN'S STUDIO/GALLERY
I’m thrilled to announce the Grand Opening of my new studio/gallery, Van Tuinen Art. It's located across from the Yacht Club at Views on Fifth, in one of Olympia's newest architectural additions, 429 4th Ave W, Olympia WA 98502.
OPEN ON SATURDAY
Open Saturday afternoons, 1-5 pm. I’d love to see if you drop by.
OPEN BY APPOINTMENT
Please feel free to request an appointment anytime.
Woodard Canyon Winery
I'm honored to have my art selected by Woodward Canyon Winery of Walla Walla, Washington for their 2017 “Artist Series” Cabernet Sauvignon, released in May 2020.
Stay in Touch
I trust you are happy and healthy during these unprecedented times. Stay in touch and let me know if you are passing through Olympia. I would love to see you and share my latest work.
Thank you for your time,
Debra Van Tuinen
Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.
Please join me at Waterstreet Cafe for the Fall 2017 Olympia Arts Walk.
Arts Walk Discount
Receive a 20% discount on all commissions and artwork sold on Friday and Saturday during Arts Walk.
Share a glass of wine and ask me questions about my new work. I'd love to see you.
Friday, October 6
5:00 — 8:30 pm
Saturday, October 7
1:00 — 5:00 pm
610 Water St SW
Olympia, WA 98501
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Two Panels, Encaustic/Gold Leaf on wood panels, 60" x 96"
Photo Credit © Carl Juste, Miami Herald
New work—new opportunities
November 30 — December 5, 2016
I participated in the Spectrum / Red Dot Show during the Miami Art Basel and showed three of my new acrylic and sumi ink on canvas paintings.
As a result, in 2017 my work will be represented by Steidel Fine Art Gallery in London, England. They will show my work in the 2017 May AFF show in Hampstead, London and at aFall show at Steidel Fine Art Gallery in Austin, Texas.
We enjoyed viewing wonderful work at the galleries and talking to the curators, at the Miami Basel, Art Miami, Concepts, Aqua and Pulse shows. I am currently following up on opportunities with galleries that are interested in representing my work.
Each piece is available. Please send a note to start the conversation.
What is Art Basel?
While Art Basel provides a platform for galleries to show and sell their work to collectors, museum directors, and curators, it also attracts a large international audience of art spectators and students.
Art Basel is an international art fair with four shows staged annually in Basel, Switzerland; Miami Beach, Florida; the Wynwood Art District in Miami, Florida; and Hong Kong, China. Each show is organized into sectors which showcase contemporary artworks by established and newly emerging artists.
In addition to the artworks shown by participating galleries, the shows offer parallel programming produced in collaboration with the host city’s local institutions.
The New Red Dot Miami
Red Dot Miami, is a juried contemporary art show featuring 50+ international galleries exhibiting paintings, sculpture, photography, and secondary market works.