Third Street Gallery in Old Town, Eureka

After 20 years of operating in Eureka’s Old Town, the Humboldt State University Third Street Gallery closes on September 2.  As a final farewell the gallery will be holding its last Arts Alive exhibition tonight, featuring artwork from HSU’s recent graduates.

“I’m feeling pretty sad,” Third Street Gallery assistant Bernadette McConnell told the Outpost today. She said that working at the gallery has been an invaluable experience for aspiring museum and professional gallery curators, such as herself.

The gallery opened in 1998 with the help of director Jack Bentley, as a place for Humboldt State students to show their work and be involved with the community. Bentley retired in July, a plan which he announced in January.

In Febuary, HSU President Lisa Rossbacher announced potential plans to close the gallery as a part of the proposed $9 million in budget cuts for the university. The plan to close Third Street was confirmed in an press release sent by HSU in April, which stated:

The off-campus gallery has proven expensive to maintain, and while there has been donor support over time, it was not able to develop a sustained, diversified funding base. Some of the savings will be used to ensure students get a similar hands-on experience in galleries on campus, and the Art Department will be exploring new ways to increase community engagement.

McConnell told the Outpost that it is true that the gallery is pretty expensive to maintain. She said that the rent alone is pretty high and the staff tries to maintain professional standards when it comes to the display, shipping and handling of the artwork. All of those supplies can really add up.

“But, from a student perspective it’s really worthwhile,” McConnell said. “It’s all things you can put on your resume. When you move into a career, you look back and realize how important everything you did at Third Street was.”

Many students and others in the community are sad to see the gallery close and some folks wrote their sentiments on post-its placed in the gallery. McConnell said that a few people have asked her if there’s any way they could stay open. But she’s had to explain that it is the choice of the HSU administration.

Sticky notes from visitors of the Third Street Gallery

HSU stated that money saved from the gallery would go towards ensuring that students will continue to get the experience they need at the other galleries on campus, which include the Reese Bullen Gallery and the Goudi-Ni Native American Arts Gallery.

McConnell said that these are both fantastic spaces. But she does not feel that they provide the same opportunity for the artists as Third Street did.

Because it is in the heart of Old Town Eureka, Third Street got a lot of foot traffic and provided a great way for the artists to get exposure in the community. The galleries on campus are not as convenient to access for non-students. But McConnell hopes that people will still find their way to see the student’s art.

“I really hope the community still reaches out to the school and keeps an ear out for exhibitions happening up there so they can still participate in HSU’s art community,” she said. 

Third Street Gallery, 416 Third Street, Eureka, will be open until 9:00 tonight for Arts Alive and will open for the last time on Sunday September 2 from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. You can see the event on the “This Used to be Third Street Gallery” Facebook page.