What's the history of our building? Well there are many stories. Its been a variety store, a kitchen design store, a newspaper. But mostly it has been a gift.
JANET CIMINO 1944 - 2011
The Tsuga (/ˈsuːɡə/) Gallery in Cathlamet, Washington, is a gift from the late Janet Cimino, who loved art and education. Born in Cathlamet in 1944, Janet Kerstetter grew up there and then attended Western Washington University earning a degree in education in 1968. She married Noel (“Scotty”) Cimino, and they lived in Port Angeles, Whatcom County and on Bainbridge Island. She and Scotty were life members of the Washington Native Plant Society, and avid hikers. They enjoyed exploring and photographing wildlife and plants, and were especially fond of trekking in Mount Rainier Park. Janet’s interests in wildlife and wildflowers were reflected in her appreciation for fine calligraphy, Asian art, and regional history, especially that of the Columbia River and the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Janet returned to live in Cathlamet a few years after Scotty died unexpectedly during a mountain climb in 1996. She brought her collection of over 100 pieces of art, as well as a garage full of framing and matting equipment (a skill in which she specialized). She began to link with other artists in the area, especially the Johnson Park Artist group which met weekly on the west side of the county. In addition Janet developed a rotating exhibit of local artists’ work at the Family Health Clinic in Cathlamet. By 2008 she had organized an ‘Artisan Market’ in Cathlamet during the Christmas holidays and the town’s summer Bald Eagle Day. She invited artists throughout the county to participate in these events. Unfortunately, around this time Janet began to suffer from poor health and was diagnosed with cancer. After surgery she appeared to be recovering well; however, by 2010, the cancer had returned. In spite of experiencing extensive radiation and chemotherapy she always had a positive spirit, was a great friend and maintained strong connections with local artists…..she never lost her smile.
When Janet discovered in 2011 her cancer was terminal she secretly bought an empty 100 year old building on Main Street in Cathlamet for the purpose of establishing an art gallery in the town, formed a Trust and provided funds to remodel the building. In the spring of 2011 she held a meeting of area artists to present her ideas and wishes to them about establishing a gallery to encourage and promote practicing artists and art education throughout Wahkiakum County. Without a doubt everyone was thrilled with the plan and willing to participate in the project!
The Tsuga Art Association was formed that night. Janet gave the building to the Association, along with Trust funds to cover other expenses for a 10 year period. If the project was self-sustaining by that time, the building would be transferred permanently to the Association. Janet chose the name “Tsuga”, the indigenous name for hemlock trees, for the gallery feeling it represented the character of the area. After some quick clean up and painting in the building, the local artistic community filled it with art to prepare for an opening to coincide with the July 2011 Bald Eagle Festival, the biggest yearly public event in Cathlamet.
Janet was able to attend and cut the ribbon for the grand opening of the Tsuga Gallery on the night before the festival. The town came out in full strength to honor her, packing the gallery shoulder-to-shoulder in a crowd that flowed into the street all evening and throughout the following day. Everyone was truly appreciative of Janet’s gift, and she saw her dream come true! Two weeks later on August 4th, at the age of 67, Janet passed away.