A Vision for Local Artists

Gallery curator in Eureka helps artists share their work without overhead at Manifestations Gallery

By Maggie Dresser
Face masks by Karin Lamb in Manifestations Gallery in Eureka on Jan. 21, 2021.Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Before Sally Balderston opened Manifestations Gallery in Eureka almost two years ago, she saw an ad reading “space for rent” at The Sunflower Moose, a boutique where she sometimes bought clothes and knew the store’s owner.

Balderston almost instantly acquired the space and started calling every artist she knew in the area. She even had the name already picked out. It was as if the gallery was meant to be, she says.

“I just knew it,” Balderston said. “It was a vision … because it’s all about the manifestations.”

Balderston originally wanted the gallery to be a cooperative, but since the building needed renovations, it made more sense for her to become the sole proprietor. She also has two partners, artists Ian Jeffcock, who makes wooden bowls, and Doug Merrill, who makes custom jewelry. Additionally, she rents booth space to seven resident artists and the remainder of the space to guest artists, with 23 artists total.

A different artist works every day of the week, and each shares the rent and utilities. Artists also use their day at the gallery to work on their art and share the process with customers. Balderston also doesn’t make them pay any additional percentages when they sell their work, which ranges from small items at $20 to large items at $15,000.

“I think it’s kind of the wave of the future to get out from under that overhead,” Balderston said. “(The artist’s) only opportunities were the occasional show or going to the Flathead for a show, so this gives us a place on Main Street.”

Balderston said she probably wouldn’t have opened the gallery if she didn’t find a location on the main strip on Dewey Avenue through Eureka. With a background in personal training and Pilates, she was preparing to open up a studio space but felt burned out after doing it for 20 years in Southern California and needed a change of pace.

Since she already knew many artists in Eureka and knew they needed a place to sell their art, Balderston knew the timing was right when the gallery’s space opened up two years ago.

“It’s got a life of its own,” Balderston said. “I don’t go out and solicit artists; I let them come to me. Having that low overhead makes it easy for us to have freedom.”

Balderston sells her own rainbow pendulums and makes jewelry out of gems and stones, but she’s most proud of creating the entire gallery.

“I like building spaces and I like putting things together,” she said. The gallery offers a diverse art collection, which includes wooden bowls, stained glass, fiber arts custom jewelry and more. Balderston makes sure to choose passionate artists.

The community of Eureka has been supportive of the gallery, Balderston said, and she wants people to enjoy art whether they buy it or not.

“The main thing is I want people to stay inspired, encouraged and have a place where they can share their stuff and have it look really nice and make the money that they need to,” she said.

Balderston also recently collaborated with other business owners in Eureka to share the space next door, which will eventually include The Sunflower Moose, a Vietnamese kitchen, a real estate corner and more. The collective will have a similar business model as Manifestations with a shared space and shared costs.

Manifestations Gallery is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily at 303 Dewey Ave. in Eureka. Balderston also offers shopping by appointment.

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