In downtown Moscow, on the corner of Main and 5th Street, is a building with large glass windows that display jewlery, crafts and handmade products. At first glance, the Prichard Art Gallery looks like another one of the brick structures that contributes to downtown Moscow”s charm, but community members and students alike understand that the gallery is so much more – a community staple that has helped bring art to the Palouse since 1982.
Roger Rowley, director of the Prichard Art Gallery, said the gallery was first created in conjunction with the University of Idaho”s College of Art and Architecture and was moved to its current location four years later, in 1986.
The gallery, equipped with an exhibit space and front of store gift shop, has housed a variety of artwork over the years, from the work of students and faculty members to pieces from established artists across the country.
Rowley said putting together exhibits that will showcase art and expose the community to new and exciting works is a part of his job.
“I am a professional trained in how to run an art gallery and provide this kind of artwork,” Rowley said. “That”s my job.”
Assistant Director of the gallery, Nara Woodland, said not only does Rowley do the job well, but that she also appreciates how Rowley helps bring the community together through art.
“I love how Roger is willing to bring in art that people in a small community wouldn”t normally see,” Woodland said. “We show art from artists that are emerging … and also established artists. It”s not really one genre of art, it”s just art that he finds interesting.”
In addition to displaying a wide variety of artwork from many different artists, Rowley and Woodland also aim to promote art among today”s youth.
The gallery makes a priority of various outreach activities to the greater Moscow community, doing stops not only at local schools, but also at K-12 schools in the outlying areas.
While Rowley said he occasionally encounters people who devalue creative pursuits, he has found that the majority of the public is aware and eager to learn about the world of art.
“Even the people that have lived here for generations aren”t stuck here,” Rowley said. “They”re traveling, they”re getting out “¦ They”re all pretty well informed and intelligent about what”s going on.”
One of the most important outreach systems Rowley utilizes is arranged through the university.
Rowley said The Prichard Art Gallery often hires up to 12 UI work study students as gallery monitors every year.
The position allows students to be exposed to the world of art as well as gives them the opportunity to learn more about working in an art gallery.
Woodland, who first became involved with the gallery as a work study student 10 years ago, said the experience was an invaluable one for her.
“It”s been a really positive influence in my life,” Woodland said. “It”s given me a connection to the community that I would of otherwise not had.”
Although the gallery was formed in relation to the university and regularly employs work studies, Rowley said one of his more unique challenges as gallery director is getting more students to come through the gallery”s doors.
“It takes a little bit more effort to get students here from on campus,” Rowley said. “We still see a fair amount of students in here. Over any given year we are seeing more than 1,000 to 2,000 students in the gallery.”
Despite facing difficulties when it comes to student outreach, Rowley said he appreciates the Prichard”s current location.
“I”d rather have that challenge, than to be on campus and trying to get the community to come see us,” Rowley said.
The Prichard is currently holding their Biennial Benefit Auction through Saturday. Their next exhibit opens Feb. 19 and will feature artists Garth Classen, Sue Latta and Kerry Moosman.
Sam Balas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org