Our Silver Anniversary

May 1, 2024

It takes twenty-five years for the Agave ocahui to flower, or for the human brain to fully mature. Jupiter circles the sun twice in twenty-five years. All the way around the sun, twice! Twenty-five years is a long time.

Twenty-five years ago, Pamela Hahn and N’ima Leveton had been thinking about opening an artist-run space. When the Glendeven Inn near Little River sold, the new owners were looking for someone to run the empty art gallery on the premises. Hahn and Leveton signed on, not knowing how they would make it work. They presented the idea to Arlene Reiss, and the brainstorming began. It was agreed the focus would be primarily on abstract art. Artists were contacted who suggested other artists—and then there were ten. Since several of the artists were unknown to one another, this initial phase required a great deal of trust. Meetings were held. A mission statement, policies, bylaws, and jobs were created. Walls were painted, floors stained, signs made and windows covered to provide more hanging space. The gallery was launched…and in May 1999 Partners Gallery at Glendeven held its grand opening. Artists represented were: collaborative artists Ricia Araiza and Michael Leventhal, Judith Beam, Jacqueline Davidson, Pamela Hahn, N’ima Leveton, Kazuko Mathews, Kristin Otwell, Arlene Reiss, Virginia Stearns and Sue Winn.

In time as some members moved away or retired, others were added: Mina Cohen, John Darcy, Karen Fenley, Michael Gustavson, Carolyn King, Melissa Murphy, Elizabeth Ross and Karen Urbanek. Seven of the Glendeven artists are with the gallery today. After nine years and a successful run of the gallery, the owners of the Inn announced they now needed the gallery space. The search began for a new location.

Fort Bragg

In 2008 Partners Gallery signed a lease at 335 N. Franklin Street in Fort Bragg. Undaunted, once again the partners painted walls, cleaned floors, created lighting, built storage units, made new signs, and gallery fixtures were brought out of storage. A grand opening show, New Horizons, was held in June 2008. Artists represented were: Judith Beam, Mina Cohen, John Darcy, Karen Fenley, Pamela Hahn, Carolyn King, Melissa Murphy, Kristin Otwell, Arlene Reiss, Virginia Stearns and Karen Urbanek. The Partners had enjoyed the beautiful grounds at the Glendeven Inn, but we were pleased to be joining the business and art community in Fort Bragg. There were pluses— like heading over to Headlands Coffeehouse for a latte during a break. Again as some partners moved away or moved on to other ventures, new members were welcomed: Rosemary Allen, Rachel Binah, Joan Burleigh, Kathy Carl, Miriam Davis,Virginia Sharkey, and Carolyn Schneider. Then In 2020 we had to close the Gallery because of the pandemic.

Partners Online

During some of 2020 and 2021 Partners Gallery stayed alive online. Since we couldn’t exhibit work in a physical space, we developed a new website where we could show our work and keep in touch with the friends of the gallery. We had two group shows and four three-person shows online. We endured zoom meetings and uncertainty about the future.


Then, as the pandemic eased, we began looking up and down our local coast for a space. We spotted a for lease sign in the window of the historic Beacon Building in Mendocino, and on May 1, 2021 we signed a lease. Partners Gallery was back. We enjoy being in an historic building and the conversations it generates, and our space is beautiful. We mount a new show every month, and as well as displaying our own work, Partners Gallery has remained committed to producing invitational shows highlighting other local artists. We love the space and hope never to move again. The twelve artists represented here are: Rachel Binah, Kathy Carl, Mina Cohen, Miriam Davis, Karen Fenley, Pamela Hahn, Carolyn King, Kristin Otwell, Arlene Reiss, Carolyn Schneider, Virginia Sharkey and Virginia Stearns.

In Memoriam: N’ima Leveton, Jacqueline Davidson, Michael Leventhal, John Darcy

Some thoughts from current Partners:

Pamela Hahn

Why I am with Partners Gallery after all these years. As well as selling each other’s work, all members of the gallery have jobs that support the well-being and success of the other members. This is a heartening experience. There is freedom to experiment. Working in the gallery affords the opportunity to meet followers, both local and from afar. This adds a personal and social touch to the solitary life of the studio.

Ginny Stearns

I’ve been a proud member of the Partners Gallery from its beginning at the Glendeven Inn in Little River, through years on Franklin Street in Fort Bragg, and now at the Beacon Building in Mendocino. It has been a wonderful, cooperative team experience; despite disagreements we have always come to consensus. I love how we have spare shows which display the work at its best. I feel like I have the freedom and support to explore new media and directions. I appreciate how we learn from each other and how each artist continues to develop and improve. We’ve displayed work from the community as well, including local artists, high school students and out-of-towners through artist calls, bringing new visions and techniques to the community. In one creative event we all posed in dappled sunlight for a rendition of a French Impressionist picnic scene. Being a part of this special gallery is an important and enriching part of my life. To know that there is a place that welcomes my art is invaluable.

Kristin Otwell

I had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998. After surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, I received the news that I was cancer free. Just a few months later, I was invited to attend a meeting to discuss the possibility of starting a new gallery at the Glendeven Inn. The only person I knew at the meeting was Arlene Reiss. The timing couldn’t have been better for me. After my year of living under the burden of cancer, a new door opened. I felt blessed to meet and work with some wonderful artists on such an engaging project. Being a partner for the last 25 years has been my anchor—a truly great experience!

Arlene Reiss

Partners Gallery opened during the exciting dot-com era when young folks were buying their first homes. In many cases the gallery was their introduction to nonrepresentational contemporary art.  We were and continue to be educators in that realm. Although there have been changes in individual membership, some aspects remain constant. For the 25 years that I have been a partner I have always felt fortunate to be working with a wonderful, supportive group of artists. The quality and presentation of the work has always been excellent. I believe that a major reason for the continuity of the gallery is that the Partners  consistently put the needs of the Gallery before their individual desires and needs.

Mina Cohen

I was asked to join as an original member, but still had my kids at home and other commitments so I did not join until a few years later. Exhibiting my work was hit and miss before joining the gallery, though I had good connections in the Bay Area.  I hated having to sell myself, and being a member of Partners made it possible for me to share my work whenever I was ready without having to sell my soul. It was a pleasant surprise to see how professionally displayed the art was and I was introduced to some artists I had never met before. It was nice to be part of a community again as I had been in San Francisco before I moved to the coast.

Carolyn King

I moved to Mendocino in 2000. At that time Partners Gallery was located at the Glendeven Inn in Little River. I was invited to become a participating partner in 2002. I immediately felt I had joined the right gallery, as I liked the way art was displayed, and I felt the spirit of the partners’ camaraderie. They were working together in harmony to operate an art gallery in which they were proud to present their art and the art of others. I admire and appreciate the dedication and art of my fellow members. For me Partners Gallery is not just a place  to show my work. It provides me an opportunity to connect and share ideas with the other artists and the community.

Karen Fenley

Joining Partners in 2006 has enabled me to exhibit the personal and varied work I love to do while spending time with some of the best artists on the coast.  It is also a great way to engage visitors and locals in conversations about the arts and beyond.

Carolyn Schneider

It's great to have a beautiful space to show art of mine and of my fellow partners and invitees.  All of us partners collaborate to keep the gallery alive and well and we are pretty magnificent at it. And its a pleasure to talk with gallery members and visitors about the art on the walls, about their creative endeavors, and about the vital roles art plays in the world.

Miriam Davis

I love the openness of the Partners to my experiments with different materials and styles. I can follow an interesting thread, work in any medium, show the results, and enjoy seeing my work displayed alongside the best work on our coast.

Kathy Carl

As the latest Partner, my history is short but sweet. I had met former Partner Elizabeth Ross when she joined a printmaking workshop at Noyo Printworks in early 2019. When that program closed, Elizabeth invited me to take her place at Partners as she followed other obligations. I was thrilled and honored to be accepted by such an amazing group of artists whom I admired. Then, just six months into my membership, Covid shut down our gallery in Fort Bragg and changed everything. Against what seemed like impossible odds, we landed in Mendocino at our current magical space. This partnership of 12 has shown me so much in five years—resilience, excellence, and friendship. I am very proud to be a part of pARTners.

Miriam Davis
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