If you haven't stopped in the Artist Loft Gallery in Coos Bay, you owe it to yourself to do so.

There are some amazingly good pieces on exhibit created by the cooperative of 17 local artists. The Artist Loft Gallery was formerly located in Pony Village Mall for more than a dozen years but when one of the major chain stores pulled out, the co-op decided it was time to move. The group found a spot in downtown Coos Bay near Coos Art Museum, Art for Life, Organic Glass and Leaf's Treehouse — which are just some of the other reasons to stroll around downtown and find one-of-a-kind creations.

The day I stopped in, Wendy Burger was in the gallery fulfilling some of her requirements, she said that, "Artists who display their work at the gallery for sale are either full, half or consignment only members." Burger continued, "Full members pay $50 a month and half members $25 a month, then the galley takes a commission on whatever is sold. The commission is 25 percent, if you're half its 35, if you're just on (exhibitor only) consignment it's 45, that's typical for any art gallery."

Burger aka WM Ralston Burger joined the Artist Loft Gallery about a year ago when the gallery moved to the Coos Bay location. "Part of the requirement of being a member is to participate in maintenance and sitting in the gallery. We get together and paint walls, and move things around. We also participate in the monthly wine walk, which is quite fun," said Burger. Full members do 4 hours a week and/or special jobs, half members do 4 hours twice a month and exhibitor do no work.

Can anyone join? Yes but Burger said, "We try to get, at least 3 people anyway, to jury a new person in. It depends on what we have room for too, sometimes there seems to be more wall artists."

While I was in the gallery I took my own advice and purchased a gift certificate for an art class, a gift for my mom to decorate a silk scarf with Sharon Backues Jan. 25. I will be participating too, and then I'll let you know just how much fun it was.

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Suddenly Backues, the current treasurer, appeared and added, "This is just our second year here, but we've been open 14 years, we opened in 2003. We had to leave the mall because it was just dying. When JC Penney left, our foot traffic dropped in half. We had found this place by the time Macy's decided to leave."

"We are really hoping it becomes a destination because there is a lot of good art in our town." Backues added, "We are hoping to become part of a walking sort of thing." As she chatted she showed me photos of some of the pieces she's sold recently, full size silk scarves and panels which are typically 14 by 72 inches. Apparently her silk scarves were a popular gifts, there were none in the gallery, so maybe the gallery is already a destination. Describing her upcoming class she chuckled saying, "The scarves are hardly big enough for a pony tail." She said, "There just wasn't room for the larger scarves. Her objective is to show people how to paint the silk." There is only room for 5 in her class but she's okay with small classes.

You'll find jewelry, decorative gourds, greeting cards, steel art, mixed media and paintings, including several of WM Ralston Burgers'. Just a couple doors away from Coos Art Museum and Art for Life, the Artist Loft Gallery is located at 367 Anderson in downtown Coos Bay. Regular hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Find out more about the co-op at http://www.theartistloftgallery.com.

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