Although I have always made things, I didn't begin to see myself as an artist until I was offered my first solo show at Oak Hollow Gallery and Frames -- owned at the time by founder Jackie Prout. It was a turning point in my life -- to see my work on the walls and people I didn't know appreciating what I'd made and even paying money to take my pieces home. Josey Fast took over the gallery in 2011 when Jackie retired. Josey has continued to make Oak Hollow a leader in the Yakima arts community. -- Sara
I slid right into Oak Hollow, basically following the model that [former owner] Jackie [Prout] had established over so many years, custom-framing and putting-up a new gallery show every month. That was a learning curve - working with artists, knowing what to ask for and how to ask for it. Being the ‘new kid’ I was not very assertive, not wanting to burn any bridges or offend anyone. I guess that has been the hardest thing about taking over an existing business: figuring out what to take-on, what to let-go-of and what to create new.
I am not sure that I have really done anything new with the business, only being myself and hoping that people like who I am and coming back. That has been the experience. My framing ‘style’ is different than Jackie’s and so far people seem to like what I am doing and return. I may have lost some of her regular clients but I believe that I have gained many new ones.
Regarding art and artists, I continue to meet very talented Valley artists and have had no problem filling the show calendar. Currently I am booked into 2017. Artists of all sorts contact me regarding their work and I have also approached those whose work I have seen in other venues. For a few, having their work show in the Gallery has been a first for them and definitely encouraging whether one or a few or many sell. Seeing an artist ‘shine’ during the opening reception where people not related to them who are not their friends say positive things about their art, is very rewarding for me as well.
As the economy has continued to improve, business has been fairly busy and I, like a lot of people like to be busy. The slow periods are hard and probably the most challenging thing about being the owner and sole employee. When it is busy and customers bring in interesting framing projects, that is when it is the most fun.
Now after almost four years, I am so very glad that I chose to jump in head-first into another challenge. I recently learned, from a Ted.com presentation that I am a “multi-potentalite” which is good news because I have always felt a bit of a negative connotation attached to changing jobs and ‘careers’ so frequently in my life. I LOVE what I do; working with the public, local artists, my hands, my head and my creativity. It might only be another few years until I decide what the next challenge will be (probably retirement) but for now, I am so happy having a place of my own to fashion and mold and at some point turn-over to someone else who has the same dream for their life.