Net Summary

A second gallery in Ashland's historic Railroad District is closing.

Cathy DeForest, owner of Gallery DeForest, 270 Fourth St., said this week that she will close her final show on Oct. 25.

Johan Ziems and Rob Pendell, owners of Nuwandart on A Street in the Railroad District, closed their gallery earlier this month. They cited the economic downturn and a desire to spend more time on other art projects.

DeForest ran a gallery in the San Francisco Bay Area for six years before opening Gallery DeForest in Ashland. The gallery had a four-year run, during which time DeForest gained a reputation for showing fine art from local, national and international artists, encouraging student artists and poets and promoting the Railroad District.

She said the slowing economy was one factor in her decision to close the gallery.

"But my primary reason is to dedicate time to my own art and to really concentrate on that," she said, noting that she has spent 10 years as a gallery owner. "It is challenging to sell art. But both the Ashland community and the tourists have been extremely supportive of the gallery. The Railroad District is not getting enough clients. When people find us, they love us. But sometimes they don't know we're here."

The Railroad District, one of four designated historic districts in Ashland, encompasses streets near the railroad tracks.

Earlier this month, the City Council voted to forward recommendations from the Downtown Task Force to the Ashland Planning Commission for review. Among the recommendations, the task force said the city should develop policies to put up informational signs, such as "More Shops," "Galleries" and "Restaurants" with arrows pointing the way. If the Planning Commission and City Council adopt that recommendation, signs could help direct tourists from the downtown to the Railroad District.

DeForest said that closing her gallery will allow her to spend more time on artist books in which she does the writing, illustration and printing. Her books are held around the country in special university and library collections devoted to artist books. She will also teach a class on artist books next summer at the Santa Reparata International School of Art in Florence, Italy.

DeForest and her husband are in the midst of building a Tuscan-style farmhouse with two studios where she plans to have art exhibits, poetry readings and demonstrations of letterpress printing. She will show her own art at Illahe Design Studio & Gallery on A Street next year, and is also represented by galleries in Portland and San Francisco.

As for the artists who will lose a place to show their art after the gallery closes, DeForest said she is continuing her Web site, www.gallerydeforest.com, where people can view and buy the work of the artists. A revamped version of the site will debut next week.

"It's an expansion of the gallery in that way," she said.

Four years ago, when DeForest launched her Ashland gallery, she handed out roses. She plans to hand out roses again to supporters during the First Friday Art Walk this week, when galleries are open for evening hours. There will also be an artists' talk at Gallery DeForest from 8:15-9:15 p.m. on Friday.

All items in the gallery will be on sale for 25 percent off during October. Ashland High School student Alison Van Olphen will be among the artists featured for the month.

For more information, call Gallery DeForest at 482-1005. To be added to a mailing list about upcoming poetry readings, studio tours and art shows, write to cathy@gallerydeforest.com.

Staff writer Vickie Aldous can be reached at 479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.