The Eifert Gallery in Ferndale California
1978 – 1995
It was an amazing event for me, and it was the gracious gift of two spinsters who never personally saw what they helped create.
I grew into a real artist in this building, subsidized by two sisters who saw value in helping a few struggling artists hundreds of miles away from their home in Southern California. Many others grew into better artists here, too, notably Carrie Grant, weaver and photographer.
On these walls, Larry Eifert sold over 2000 original paintings – and became a painter with a national following.
Today, a plaque on the building’s side wall speaks to this, telling stangers every day that high rent is not always high use of a beautiful space.For the story behind the story, and history about the Radanovich Sisters, click here for that page.
This 1990 post card of Ferndale’s Main Street shows the classic architecture that makes the town iconic.The Eifert Gallery is just beyond the red building. Notice the empty parking spaces? Business was never THAT good.
In the movie “Breakout”, choppers landed here, troops marched. But also Larry Eifert lived upstairs here for years in what was then the Victorian Village Inn.In the background is Russ Park, a 100 acre forest park where Eifert built and maintained 3.5 miles of trails. What a job!
This is all old-growth redwood contruction. Walls are full 6″ solid wood, with 1″ siding both inside and out. Roof was full 2″ thick with cross angled 1″ on both sides. Try wiring THAT!If you look closely, you can see a wire running OUTSIDE the wall along the right alley side. That was the only way to wire the back studio.
That’s Larry’s father’s baby grand n the main room. His dad was a budding classical pianist until the Depression forced him into a different life.The benches were from the Assembly of God Church that once held services here. The “Ass of God Church” pews made perfect gallery furniture. And who IS that guy with all the hair?
Photo from the balcony stairs. Originally, there was a drop ceiling across the entire room.A few boards, lots of carpet and a blind eye from the building inspector – and the Eifert Gallery had a second floor.
Notice the flood lights. Paint cans, ceramic outlets screwed into the tops, simple metal straps where the bails would be and you had some pretty efficent lights.There were 75 of them! and for a cost of about 10% of what real ones cost the gallery had lights. Remember, we were struggling artists here.
The back door in the back studio. This wide door was designed for coffins to be brought in (remember it was a mortuary).This was all so fitting because Larry was in a rock band in the late 1960’s named THE MORTICIANS. No kidding! Larry found these old doors in a garage sale to replace the old windowless loading dock doors.
What we all called “the back room” had special shows. That floor is old-growth Douglas-fir tong and groove.It was painted gray when the gallery began. Thanks to a huge antique floor sander and about 50 lbs of sawdust, it cleaned up pretty well.
Evening of a special opening. Church pews loaded with paintings and everything clean and ready. Over 2,000 paintings went out the door in the years the Eifert Gallery operated.The liquor store across the street delivered the wine as it was needed. They kept it cool and watched for a signal from the gallery window that more was needed. It always was!
What to do with the ceiling. In Port Townsend, a gallery Larry showed in tore off their ceiling covering and found a wonderful old mural there. Larry copied it, painted 2000 square feet of old sheets, glueing them up one piece at a time.The center oval featured Tundra Swans flying over because that’s what happened the winter’s day the painting got to that point. The mural is still there. This was featured in Sunset Magazine.
Entryway. The front door was wide enough to handle pallbearers and coffin. It must have weighed 200 lbs.
The floor was finished in the original fashion, tongue oil and kerocene, sprayed on with a pesticide sprayer. This happened twice a year and all the doors and windows had to be left wide open at night to clear out the fumes. When it all dried, it looked great.
The front room was normally for special small shows and prints. Across the street you can see just the corner of the cowboy bar named the Palace Saloon, and the Candy Stick Studio, another big gallery.
If you look high in this photo, you can see the 2″ x 6″ interior redwood walls that were painted. The lower walls had an extra finished layer of redwood t/g siding.
Occasionally, the staff would clear away the sculptures and set up chairs for concerts. Figure drawing classes were also in this room, with the aid of a screen to hide the model from cowboy-eyes across the street at the redneck bar. There was always an big uptick in sidewalk traffic when this was going on.
The front room was for cards and other, more commercial products that often help pay the rent in a big way. The staff wasn’t paid much, but it was fun! Really fun!
Carrie Grant, for many years partner and manager of the gallery, was a weaver on a grand scale.She still lives in the area and has transferred her many creative energies to photography and other endeavors managing local non-profit groups.