ELLENSBURG, Wash — Gallery One Visual Arts Center in Ellensburg debuted a new exhibition Friday displaying graffiti art from around the Pacific Northwest. Titled “The Writing’s on the Wall,” the exhibit will run through July 31.
Many from the local community showed up at the opening, which featured a cash bar and live DJ. Curator and local artist Jason Clifton said he hopes the exhibition demonstrates the artistic quality of graffiti to people generally not exposed to it.
“In a rural area, it doesn’t ever quite get that notoriety,” Clifton said. “So, the point is to open up the door…In this form here [at a gallery], it starts to become more of an accepted art form, rather than a vandalist art act.”
According to Clifton, Gallery One is typically known for displaying fine art. He said he tried to ride his accomplishment as the 2019 Ellensburg Downtown Association Artist of the Year to get permission to do a show at the venue. And to his surprise, they said “yes.”
On display are several pieces from Clifton himself, as well as the work of some friends he’s met in his career.
“The artistry comes from Portland to all parts of Washington — Yakima, Pasco, Seattle,” Clifton said.
Seattle-based artist Alex Siniscalchi (known as CCStencil) has six pieces on display in Ellensburg, including a canvas illustration of a burning building. According to Siniscalchi, he drew inspiration for the piece from the George Floyd protests last summer.
Like most of the artwork on display at the exhibit, Siniscalchi’s is for sale. However, he said conveying a message through his art is more important than making a profit.
“My work is about protests. It’s about what’s happening in the world,” Siniscalchi said.
Gallery One Executive Director Monica Miller was excited when Clifton reached out to them about displaying street art. According to Miller, Gallery One doesn’t specialize in any particular genre.
“Our goal is to show a range of artwork and to represent a variety of different voices from the community and beyond,” Miller said. “When we have the opportunity to introduce our local community to voices from outside of the area, we love to welcome them.”