Trails End Gallery’s Tim Nielsen keeps Chewelah creative
By Brandon Hansen/The Independent Staff
On the main drag in Chewelah, a gigantic fish greets people coming through the only stoplight in town. Crafted by famous artist Dave Govedare, the fish is the attention-getter for the Trails End Gallery which has given the people of this valley a peek into the impressive artistic talent that lives and thrives here locally.
For owner Tim Nielsen, opening up the Trails End Gallery was both an opportunity and a challenge. The space he had was too big for just his jewelry shop so his idea was to have an art gallery that could showcase different Washington artists.
He built it, and they came.
This First Thursday — which has become a tradition in Chewelah to sample downtown dining and experience local art — will be the “Holiday Show” on Dec. 1. It will showcase all the artists that have been featured this year at Trails End Gallery.
Nielsen began First Thursday in January with showcasing Jacqueline Brewer’s art.
“Coming from Portland, the city had a First Thursday event that was practically a street party,” Nielsen said. “They got so big that had to have a last Thursday to let all the businesses host it.”
Trails End Gallery is inviting all the artists back in one big show that will have a handful of each artist’s work. The gallery will be packed, and people who were impressed the first time a round, get a second look at the art.
The Wednesday before First Thursday has seen artists offer a lecture about their art. This time around it will be an artists party at Quartzite Brewing Company and ChewVino. Everyone is welcome to attend.
The show isn’t a wrap-up since Nielsen has shows booked into 2018. Thursday has proven to be a good day for Chewelah and Trails End Gallery.
“The weekends are usually busy for people so Thursday is a good night because they’re usually still in town,” Nielsen said. “So far I’ve been really excited and I feel like there is a good caliber of artists out there.”
AN ARTIST HIMSELF
Nielsen graduated from Oregon State with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Applied Design with a concentration of sculpture and metal-smithing. He got into jewelry because he thought that would be the best way to succeed commercially.
“Creativity is a river we all dip our toes in,” Nielsen said. “For me making jewelry and for others who do different mediums of art, it’s from the same river.”
After graduation, Nielsen attended a setting school for 40 hours a week to learn how to set stones and become a complete bench jeweler.
“There’s a skill behind every art,” he said.
For Nielsen, he works mainly in precious metals. While gold pieces are certainly more valuable, silver-smithing lets him play around sculpturally, with texture, highlighting, polish and is affordable for customers.
“In reality, silver attracts a broader audience,” Nielson said. “A lot of my themes come from nature. You’ll look at the patterns and they’ll be organic in nature.”
After years of experience, Nielsen knows how to balance himself with time-consuming personal pieces and pieces that can be replicated with production time slimmed down. Having people buy and inquire about his jewelry is part of the affrimation of his work.
Nielsen — whose wife, Nondis is from Chewelah — spent 20 years in Portland when the decision came that the big city wasn’t what they wanted for the future. Having made visits to family and to ski, Tim and Nondis were very aware of Chewelah and began the process of moving up five years ago.
In February of last year, his wife moved up to Chewelah thanks to a job with the DNR. After about 10 trips hauling possessions during the summer and countless other hours spent moving, Nielsen was able to complete the move last October.
Since he had many out-of-state clients asking for his jewelry along with a website that kept him busy, Nielsen’s business remained portable but he also opened up a shop in Chewelah along the highway. The space was much bigger than what was needed for a jewlery shop and hence, the Trails End Gallery was born.
TRAILS END GALLERY
“Here’s an opportunity, and a challenge,” Nielsen said.
Noticing an influx of art in the town, Nielsen said the surrounding area of Chewelah and its beauty along with a wealth of performing arts in the city made it an interesting place for an art gallery. Currently, his connections with other artists and the talent around the town have allowed him to book 50 percent of artists locally and 50 percent regionally.
Tim spent time teaching silver-smithing in Taos, New Mexico and it had over 100 galleries in a town with a population of 6,700.
“The thing was it had two ski hills within 40 minutes and great food everywhere. It was just a confluence of great culture,” Nielsen said.
The Portland-area artist wanted to capture that same feeling. The back of his shop serves his work space for jewlery, while the front is perfect for the gallery.
“I thought it would work well for a rotating show,” Nielsen said. “It takes about 15-20 pieces of art for a new show to fill the gallery.”
It has since proven to be a good fit for the First Thursday event. While galleries in Seattle usually take 50 percent of sold art, some even asking for 60 percent of sales, Trails End asks for just 25 percent to add incentive for artists.
For some artists, it was their first show. Nielsen said when he went to art school they didn’t teach gallery management or how to approach galleries as an artist. They do a better job of that now but he still sees Trails End Gallery as an opportunity for artists to ease into the gallery scene.
“This is education for the artists and also for the town to learn the narrative of the artists,” Nielsen said. “I took art history in school and it made all the difference when I went to France to study and went to their museums. I had a greater appreciation for what I was seeing.”
Nielsen said he is trying to get the gallery more established in town and has enjoyed the feedback with the First Thursday event.
“If you looked at David Govedare’s show that was his first in his hometown,” Nielsen said. “That was nice for him to be in his backyard and it was nice for people to take him in as the hometown artist.”
Earlier this year, Govedare, known for his work in many states including the Vantage Horses and the Bloomsday Runners, delivered his artists lecture to a standing-room only crowd at Quartzite Brewing Company.
The February show saw Dave Andersen deliver the first artist lecture on a Wednesday. That tradition has continued through the year and Nielsen thinks that this gives the monthly event a whole different level.
“We have Spokane Falls art professor Thomas O’Day for the March and April show. He will come up for a lecture and I hope that some of his students come up, see the gallery and also want to do a show since I can provide the space,” Nielsen said.
CONTINUING TO KEEP CHEWELAH CREATIVE
PACA, the JJSHS art and theatre programs, Park Avenue Players, the Chewelah Arts Guild and KCHW are just a few ways that the Chewelah community has expressed itself artfully. Nielsen is trying to continue to tap into that creativity. Every show so far has been an artist with a different medium whether it be sculpting, photography, different types of paintings or jewelry.
“It’s my job to keep things fresh,” Nielsen said.
An average of 30 people have visited each show on First Thursday. Nielsen said while that’s a fraction of townspeople, it’s still promising and he also hopes to pull people in from surrounding communities.
The gallery, Nielsen said, it also something that he hopes he can do for a long time, when he and his wife are semi-retired.
Selling online at Silverkraftdesigns.com and with his out-of-state clients has kept him busy, and he’s also very appreciative of Chewelah’s reaction to having a jeweler in town.
Dec. 1 will be a good night to catch up on all that is going on at Trails End Gallery. Nielsen will continue to work to bring good art to the town and keep local artists in the spotlight.