Fetherston brings extensive gallery experience to role
As Betsy Fetherston settles into her new job as executive director of The Confluence: Art in Twisp, she is looking forward to bringing back programs that the gallery put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fetherston arrived in early fall to lead The Confluence art gallery, but is no newcomer to the Methow Valley. She has been coming to the valley for years with her family to recreate. “I was drawn here because we love the valley,” Fetherston said.
Now that she is living and working in the Methow Valley, she said she has been struck by “how welcoming the community is … it feels like people are supportive of each other,” Fetherston said in a recent interview. “And there’s so much support for this gallery. People want to make it succeed and support it. It’s a great community of artists.”
Since arriving at The Confluence, she has been getting to know the history of the gallery and the people involved in it. “This place has been running for 34 years,” she said.
Her recent focus has been preparing for the gallery’s annual winter exhibit, titled Perspectives, and holiday gift show, which opened on Nov. 19.
Her longer-term goals are reviving popular programs offered by the gallery. “The priority is to get everything back and running after COVID. We’re going to bring back the Trashion Show after two years, and kids’ camps this summer,” she said.
Scheduled for June 3, the Trashion Show challenges people to create fashion out of trash and recycled materials, which are presented in a runway style show. The show has been a successful fundraiser for the gallery and one of its most popular events.
Fetherston also plans to bring back summer art camps for children, and the gallery’s Art Works program, which helps working artists develop their business skills. The gallery-sponsored Home Tour, held last summer after a pandemic hiatus, will also continue, she said.
While The Confluence exhibits visual arts in its two gallery spaces, Fetherston said she plans to bring in other art forms as well. “The thing I love about a space like this is to activate it with visual arts and other arts too — literary and music,” she said.
Young musicians from Cascadia Music programs will be performing during the holiday show, and Fetherston said wants to bring back poetry readings at the gallery.
Fetherston’s background includes running Fetherston Gallery, a commercial art gallery that represented more than 30 northwest and national artists, and more recently directing the nonprofit Columbia City Gallery.
While at Columbia City Gallery, she developed partnerships with other nonprofits and proposes to do the same here in the Methow Valley. She is exploring pairing a kids’ camp with Methow Recycles to create a children’s Trashion Show. And she sees opportunities to connect the gallery with local environmental and conservation organizations.
Fetherston was working at Columbia City Gallery when the director position opened at The Confluence. “I decided when I saw the job, that this could be the opportunity to move to the valley permanently.” She and her husband, an environmental consultant, have a house near Winthrop.
“I am very excited to have a great team to work with moving forward,” Fetherston said. The gallery has a new creative coordinator, Ilsa “Gus” Rose-Witt.
“She [Rose-Witt] started with me just after Labor Day,” Fetherston said. “She is from Omak, and has a theater arts degree and background. She also has her own artistic practice,” Fetherston said.
Fetherston said Rose-Witt “will work directly with all the artists coordinating marketing, inventories and PR. In addition, we have Methow artist Mary Apffel as a sales associate. Her knowledge of the local art scene is a wonderful asset, as is her sense of humor.”
“I also look forward to working with Amanda (Jackson Mott) and Methow Arts, and the rest of the Twisp arts organizations in the Twisp Creative District,” Fetherston said. And, she added, “I have a very supportive board and look forward to working with them to realize our future potential.”