Olympia is known for its do-it-yourself aesthetic in music, art, film, fashion and so on.
It’s fitting, then, that Olympia has a DIY art gallery.
Allsorts Gallery holds art shows in between its regular use as the entry, living room and dining room of a 1931 home in the South Capitol neighborhood.
“It’s just a fun thing to do,” said Lynette Charters, who owns the gallery (and the home), along with her husband, John Serembe. “I’d recommend it if anyone else wants to do it. You meet really interesting people, and it’s great watching everyone connect.
“Because it’s in a living room, people feel more welcome to say, ‘What’s this about?’ ” she said. “You can have a conversation. That’s a joyous thing.”
Friday, Allsorts opens a new show by painter Susan Christian, who lit the spark of inspiration for the gallery, which opened in November 2015 with a show by Olympia painter, writer and art critic Alec Clayton.
“It was actually Susan Christian’s idea,” Charters said in a recent interview in her large dining room, which is open to the even larger living room illuminated by track lighting. “She says it wasn’t, but when we told her we were getting this place, she said, ‘I went to the open house there, and it would make a wonderful gallery.’ ”
Of course, that comment was just the beginning. Charters, herself an artist, noticed the scarcity of dedicated gallery space for solo shows — and such space has been even scarcer since May, when Christian closed Salon Refu to focus on her own work.
The homemade gallery has momentum, Charters said, but she’s keeping it within well-defined limits, as a hobby. She’s aiming for four shows a year, with each show open for just two weekends.
“I’m not about to break down the routine of the family,” she said. Her family is made up of Charters; Serembe; their daughter Lillie, 13 and in eighth grade at Washington Middle School; and their cat, Charcoal.
“My family has to tiptoe around,” she added. “Quite often, we have to eat somewhere else, and we have to make room for it.”
As its name says, Allsorts shows all kinds of art, along with occasional concerts and film screenings.
“A lot of galleries kind of stick with their house style,” Charters said. “I like to choose people who are maybe a little bit different, who have something to say, but I don’t really have a plan. I want it to be a little bit surprising.”
“I feel like kindness is the guide for Lynette,” Christian said. “She’s really kind. She shows very young artists, outsider artists, artists who are older — me — and artists still trying to figure out the gallery thing.”
Charters’ love for art and artists — and anyone who wants to look at or learn about art — is evident, and Allsorts has grown from that.
“It hasn’t been and it wasn’t supposed to be a profit-making thing,” she said. She charges a 25 percent commission on art sales, which comes out to be enough to cover the cost of the food for the receptions.
“It’s nice when people buy things, but we just want people to come,” she said. “We want to expose people to art that they wouldn’t generally see.”
Although she is serious about art, Charters seems to be at least as much host as curator.
The receptions draw the biggest crowds, perhaps 30-50 people. “It does get quite crowded, and it’s fun,” she said. “Everyone seems to have a great time.
“I started off thinking this would be good for the artists,” she added. “Now I’m realizing it’s really good as a community thing.”
Christian said she’s had a wonderful time socializing and people watching at Allsorts events.
“John is a wonderful cook,” she added. “The eats at the receptions are fabulous.”
Paintings by Susan Christian
What: Seven of Christian’s paintings, described by Allsorts Gallery owner Lynette Charters as “dreamlike and atmospheric,” are the latest exhibit at the gallery in Charters’ South Capitol home.
When: Artist reception 4-7 p.m. Sunday; show also on view 5-7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, plus Sept. 22 and 23 and 4-7 p.m. Sept. 24
Where: Allsorts Gallery, 2306 Capitol Way S., Olympia
More information: firstname.lastname@example.org, facebook.com/Allsorts-Gallery-886470731443079
Coming up at Allsorts
Art by Jeffree Stewart: Reception 4-7 p.m. Nov. 5; on view 5-7 p.m. Nov. 3, 4, 10 and 11, and 4-7 p.m. Nov. 12
Music by PB&J with guest Bill Duris: 7-9 p.m. Nov. 11