Longtime Greenbank Farm gallery making move to Langley

Longtime Greenbank Farm tenant, the Rob Schouten Gallery, is packing up and moving.

The business has found a new home in the Village by the Sea.

Owners Rob and Victory Schouten said this week that they gave notice to the Port of Coupeville and signed a new lease for a former bank building at the corner of Anthes Avenue and First Street in Langley.

The gallery at the farm is closed for April and will reopen at its new location on Saturday, May 6, in time for the Langley Art Walk.

“We hope our bringing 30 wonderful local artists who are not currently showing in Langley will be good for the arts community there,” Victory Schouten said. “The more wonderful art, the better.”

The move was not one that came easily for the couple, who have lived and made art on Whidbey for roughly 30 years.

It was ongoing uncertainty with the port over leases that had the gallery owners looking at other options.

Tenants at the farm are currently on month-to-month leases and commissioners are expected to discuss lease terms and rates at their meeting next week.

The couple first became involved with the Greenbank Farm, hosting poetry events in 1998. Fourteen years ago, Rob Schouten moved his studio there.

In 2008, the pair made the leap into gallery ownership and leased their current space at the farm. Featured in their gallery are more than 30 artists and mediums including painting, sculpture, glass, ceramic, jewelry, woodworking and fiber arts.

“We represent art we love and we represent artists we love,” Victory Schouten said. “We owe our artists stability and the best visibility we can give them.”

Since the change in management at the farm from the Greenbank Farm Management Group to the Port of Coupeville, events have dropped off and, with them, the revenue they helped generate for the businesses there.

“They’ve really promoted Langley as a city of arts and sculptures,” Rob Schouten said. “It’s more competitive, no doubt, but our quality of work is compatible with Langley.

“We’re really looking forward to providing a way for our artists to make a better living than they have.”

The decision to relocate is being welcomed by both the Greenbank Farm and Langley communities.

They really have not had any negative reactions so far from any other galleries in Langley, Rob Schouten said.

The new gallery space will be located in a 1923 bank building, about the same size as the gallery’s space at the farm, but divided into four rooms.

The gallery’s new home also features 12-foot ceilings and requires considerable renovations, including installation of track lighting that drops down three feet, and construction of a small office space and back-lit window cases.

After the renovations are completed, the Schoutens said they agreed to take over a garden next to the building and renovate it into a sculpture garden. They’ll be adding a fence with gate and bench along with featured sculpture art. The garden would be open during business hours and will be welcome for people to come and relax, and come eat their lunch.

“We can make it something really beautiful,” Victory Schouten said.

The Schoutens said they’ll be launching a gofundme campaign soon to raise money to help offset the cost of the renovations and moving.

The gallery will also be adding a new employee in May. Former Greenbank Farm events coordinator Kristi O’Donnell will be joining the business as a gallery assistant.

“Victory may not return to working at the gallery,” Rob Schouten said. “But she does a lot of work at home with marketing and bookkeeping, which will be important with the increased sales we’re expecting.

“A lot of what has made us successful is our interactions with the public and that personal attention we give.

“Kristi comes from that same philosophy of inclusivity and generosity.”