The brown paper that for weeks covered the windows of the former Raven’s Nest came down last Thursday, revealing the new Hinge Gallery, which includes a frame and gift shop and a small art gallery.
The business, owned by Brent and Holly Houston, features an eclectic assortment of items: vibrant prints, including some of Vashon Island scenes, letterpress cards and a variety of high-quality art and coffee table books. Interspersed are several wooden decorative pieces, geometric-shaped vases that hold air plants, magic wands and a chess set, all of which Brent, trained as an oil painter at the Art Institute of Chicago, carved by hand.
The husband-wife duo moved to the island in July from Chicago, anxious to be closer to nature and family that lives in the Seattle area. In Chicago, they owned a frame shop and gallery and have transplanted some of that here, while also expanding and selecting items that would appeal on Vashon. Asked to point to their favorite pieces in the shop, Holly showed antique architectural lithographs from France, and Brent chose a collection of coffee table books printed by the German publisher Taschen.
“I am really excited to have those in the shop,” he said.
They also carry prints and T-shirts from the island’s Cowbelle Industries and hope to feature work from other islanders.
“We’ve been making local connections, which we’re interested in continuing as the island gets to know us,” Brent said.
In the back, a small gallery space will feature work by rotating artists. The first show is of work Brent has done since moving to Vashon, oil paintings that show a lot of water and sky. He professes to be in love with the island, calling it easy on the eyes.
“In Chicago, you could see only two or three blocks. Here you can see as far as the eye can see,” he said.
Standing at a large wooden counter with samples of frames behind them, Holly and Brent said they know Vashon has a frame shop already, but noted that it has multiple banks and grocery stores. They also said they know that this time of year can be quiet for Vashon businesses, but that is OK with them.
“Sure, it’s (almost) February, but what else is going on?” Holly asked. “It kind of just happened this way, but we’re happy about it.”
This shop is a melding of their talents, Holly said, as she has a master’s degree in arts management. She is also working part-time for Vashon Allied Arts, managing their Artists in the Schools program.
So far, they said, Vashon is proving to be a good home. Brent grew up in a town of 350 in Arkansas and is pleased to return to a more rural way of life. Holly grew up on Bainbridge Island and is glad to be back as well.
“We’re here to stay,” Brent said.
Hinge Gallery will be open Tuesday through Saturday, with extended hours likely in the summer. Its grand opening is slated for 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9.