Leah Baker wanted to open a gallery where local artists could showcase their work.That dream will become a reality Friday, when Anything But Ordinary opens in downtown Camas.
The fine art includes pottery and leather sculptures. There are repurposed wine bottles, hand painted by Jennifer Emery, of Camas. Photographs of Camas lilies and Cannon Beach taken by Sandy Caldwell, of Washougal, are also available to purchase.
The featured artist this month is Janet Bentley-Jones, of Ridgefield. Her artwork includes acrylic on canvas and wood.
Baker also hopes to show the work of local, young artists. A percentage of the proceeds from those sales will be donated to “Bridge the Gap,” to provide arts programs for foster children.
Baker worked as a state social worker for almost eight years before opening the shop.
“I needed a change,” she said. “I still wanted to work and interact with my community but in a different way.”
Baker credited several people for helping her navigate the business aspects of being a new retail owner. They include Karen Hall, co-owner of the Camas Hotel; Brent Erickson, executive director of the Camas-Washougal Chamber of Commerce; Brenda Schallberger, program coordinator of the Downtown Camas Association; and Angela Fuller, a small business assistant.
“I’m impressed and amazed at how helpful the local folks are,” Baker said.
Downtown Camas reminds her of where she grew up — Palo Alto, Calif.
“It is reminiscent of University Avenue [by Stanford University],” Baker said. “Camas has the cool Liberty Theatre. It has a nice vibe.
“I had a good feeling about the space right away,” she added, regarding her first visit to the 850 square foot store site next to the Camas Hotel.
Baker moved from Vancouver to Camas in July.
“I’m really enjoying the community,” she said. “I see some folks daily.”
Being a new business owner has its challenges.
“I’m learning as I go,” Baker said. “My vision for my store is to support local artists and the community as best I can.”
The self-described “people person” said she has been getting a good response so far from individuals checking out the store’s windows.
Gift items at Anything But Ordinary include sun catchers, scarves by Laurel Burch, cigar box purses and silver necklaces, earrings and rings. There are also lamps, cookbooks, potholders, candles, handmade tutus, greeting cards, and pet dishes and treat containers.
The grand opening festivities, Friday, from 5 to 8 p.m., will include artists and crafters. Refreshments will be available, with donations accepted for Bridge the Gap. “Art, Women & Wine” is the theme of the First Friday celebration throughout downtown Camas.
Anything But Ordinary, 407 N.E. Fourth Ave., will be open Wednesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday, from noon to 5 p.m., and Monday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call 210-7303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.