May 23, 2024

Ashland Art Works plans festive First Friday

Ashland Art Works on Oak Street will be open for First Friday. Julia Sommer photo
November 30, 2022

Cooperative space features multiple artists, galleries

By Julia Sommer for

Ashland Art Works has a festive First Friday planned for Dec. 2, featuring holiday gift items: silk scarves, wooden cutting boards, glass bowls, metal and ceramic holiday trees, silver jewelry, potholders, cards and more. All work in the gallery is for sale.

Cheryl Kempner hand-builds with clay. Julia Sommer photo

Now in its 22nd year, the four-gallery collective at 291 Oak St., just south of A Street, will be open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday. All 18 member-artists will have work on display. The gallery’s December fundraiser will support the rebuilding of Talent’s Malmgren Garage, which was destroyed in the Almeda Fire. Work made from burnt metal found in its concrete husk will be for sale.

Ashland Art Works is a nonprofit, explains treasurer Cheryl Kempner, one of two original members, along with Ellen Babcock. Artists apply for membership and must be approved by all members. The gallery takes only a 15% commission, much lower than usual in the gallery world.

Kempner notes that their landlord, Brad Roupp, is “a great supporter. He was very generous with the gallery when we had to partially close for a year due to COVID.”

Lorene Senesac is a raku artist; this work is called “Celebration.” Julia Sommer photo

The double lot includes seven historic buildings, including the original barn. Ashland Art Works operates galleries in four of them. The unique retail location also offers outdoor art and a wonderful deck overlooking Ashland Creek.

Ashland Art Works features two of its artists each month, April-October. It also offers demonstrations, workshops, and space for school children to display their art. The gallery is closed every January for a thorough cleaning and painting by gallery artists. “We always check in with each other,” says Kempner. “We’re supportive of each other, an inspirational family.”

Each artist-member works three or four shifts a month of two-and-a-half to four hours. Every member is on the board. “We want everybody to have a voice,” says Kempner.

Metal Christmas trees by Cheryl Kempner made from salvaged metal cut with a plasma torch. Julia Sommer photo

The gallery’s website is at You can see members’ work on Instagram at ashlandartworks. Regular hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday and Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Call 541-488-4735 for more information. You can sign up for the gallery’s monthly newsletter at

First Friday will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2. Each month, the Ashland Gallery Association creates an online version of the Art Walk Map detailing current exhibits. To see December’s map, click here.

Email freelance writer Julia Sommer of Ashland at

Ceramic Christmas trees by Marydee Bombeck. Julia Sommer photo
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Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Email him at

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