Treasured Art and Friendships

Wednesday, April 02, 2014 5:12 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

Susan Grover and Richard Thurston opened Grover/Thurston Gallery in Pioneer Square in 1990, yet the concept started earlier. Like other budding artist representatives, the pair began by exhibiting work in their home. Some of the first art they collected was by Terry Turrell whose art, along with that of Anne Siems, is featured through the Grover/Thurston Gallery’s May 17 closing date.

Grover/Thurston Gallery has sustained a signature aesthetic that seems to have partly grown out of Mia Gallery (not to be mistaken with M.I.A. Gallery) which closed in 1997 and specialized in showing work by self-taught artists, a genre that is related to both folk and so-called “outsider” art. Turrell, who exhibited with Mia Gallery, is a self-taught artist – a tricky genre that rides a fine line between knowledge and innocence. Dip too far on one side and the work becomes pretentious, dip on the other and the work comes across as unintentional.

Turrell’s work — created out of wire, ceramic, wood, pencil, crayon, cloth, enamel, and oil amongst other mediums – rarely slips from the self-taught genre’s fine tightrope. He has written that he “strives to create compassion, humility, and humor along with a serious edge.” With hints of Alexander Calder, Alden Mason, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Turrell’s depictions of cats, birds, and figures in subdued hues with shocks of bright colors, continues our region’s craft arts legacy in ways that we can be proud.

Keeping in tune with Grover Thurston Gallery’s folk art strain, Anne Siems has been inspired by “the European Masters, Early American Folk art as well as vintage and modern photography.” Her final exhibit at the gallery entitled “Old Growth” grew from hiking and photographing in the Pacific Northwest last summer. These signature large, square paintings depict Siems’ semi-transparent/transitional, historic girls posing with great stumps of old growth trees – double portraits that represent past and present. Like Sunday church hats the stumps, adorned with fungus, squirrels, and flora, seem to know just how astonishing they are.

“Susan and Richard’s was a fabulous gallery to start out with in Seattle,” wrote Siems via email; “They were my hub and from them my career got going.”

Part of the reason for Grover Thurston Gallery’s success is that the owners were disciplined. “In the whole time we’ve had the gallery,” says Susan Grover, “we’ve never represented more than 24 artists at one time. And we’ve represented artists that we cared about – we liked the artist and we liked the work. Work that we were interested in living with and collecting ourselves.”

Along with Turrell and Siems, the Grover/Thurston Gallery’s stable of artists included Adrian Arleo, Suzy Barnard, Deborah Bell, Patti Bowman, Rachel Brumer, Larry Calkins, John Dempcy, Joe Max Emminger, Judy Hill, Fay Jones, David Kroll, James Lavadour, Kenna Moser, John Randall Nelson, Marianne Pulfer, Inez Storer, Francesca Sundsten, and Alicia Tormey.

It is no surprise that after operating a two-person, brick-and-mortar business for twenty-four years that both Susan Grover and Richard Thurston plan on spending the next year on their respective travels. Yet they have enjoyed spending time with the art and artists they cared about. “There are some friendships,” says Susan Grover, “that I will treasure for the rest of my life.”

Edie Everette

Edie Everette is a Pacific Northwest writer and cartoonist. You can see her work at

Anne Siems and Terry Turrell exhibits are featured through May 17 at the Grover/Thurston Gallery located at 319 - 3rd Avenue South in Seattle, Washington with the hours of Tuesday through Saturday 11 A.M. to 5 P.M. and by appointment. For more information visit

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