It is with great sadness that we share the news that gallerist and former SPA board member Beth Cullom passed away on Tuesday June 13th, surrounded by friends and family, after a 3 year battle with Stage IV Non-small cell lung cancer. Beth leaves behind her husband Dan Walker, and daughters Julia and Summer.
Included below is an excerpt from an online announcement she made in Jan. 2016 regarding the closing of the Cullom Gallery, looking back at her career as well as to the future, and thanking all of you for the support over the years.
"I realize that this announcement may come as a surprise to some, as will the news that in the spring of 2014, I was diagnosed with cancer. Though my treatment has gone well so far, it is important for me to spend more time with my family now, and continue to work on all aspects of getting well. I am deeply grateful to the arts community that has helped me for so many years and in so many ways, but especially in the last year. In many cases, your professional camaraderie has turned to friendship, and no matter the outcome of these changes, those connections will remain.
In 2007 when I opened Cullom Gallery it was in Pioneer Square, sharing a front door with Sam Davidson’s well established, Davidson Galleries, and occupying a small corner of the larger gallery’s mezzanine. For the previous eleven years, I had worked for Carolyn Staley, a regional expert in ukiyo-e and modern Japanese woodblock prints. Starting with what I knew, I initially showed the work of historic Japanese woodblock print artists, but by the summer of 2010 my focus had stretched to include contemporary works, so I moved to a larger ground floor space in the Panama Hotel Building, a National Landmark in Seattle’s International District. In 2013, in response to industry conditions and my belief that there were more direct and genuine ways to foster connections with collectors and institutions, I shifted the gallery to a mobile model. Since then, Cullom Gallery has reached its audience via monthly evening and afternoon pop-up events staged in area hotel lobbies, arts institutions and apartment high-rises; and via month-long exhibition partnerships with fellow gallerists who occupy brick and mortar locations. Changing the way I do business proved to be not only more fun, but also a good business decision. My ties to the community of collectors, colleagues, and artists became deeper and broader. And based on customer feedback, it was also clear that removing hierarchy and formality, commonly associated with visiting an art gallery, was a welcome change for many potential customers. I am proud of the number of people who made their first art purchases by way of my pop-up events. Also, as I learned about other gallerists' responses to the shifting art market, it became clear that my switch to a mobile gallery was part of a larger conversation about the long-term livelihood of commercial galleries. None of us knows the future, but after two years as a traveling art dealer, I start this new chapter in my life with many insights and ideas that I know will inform my next moves.
With deep thanks to everyone who has participated in this experiment,"
Beth Cullom - January 2016
Photo of Beth Cullom by Bruce Dene