Monday, July 24, 2017 This Week's Paper

Artists are the stars in the Constellation Art Gallery firmament

Sometimes the stars align and wonderful things happen in the wake. Such is the story of Constellation Art Gallery (formerly Urban Alchemy) at 3013 6th Ave. Everything just seemed to fall into place for this unique and welcoming artists' showroom, which features affordable works by 25 artists from the Northwest and beyond. Just stepping into the gallery is like entering another world, where all is peaceful and pleasing to the senses. From the warm colors on the walls to the genteel lighting and soft music playing in the background, once you step in, you may find yourself not wanting to leave.

Not to mention that there’s a wide variety of handmade and one of a kind items to browse through and buy – funky and tasteful furniture, jewelry, wall art, sculpture, glass art, home furnishings, exquisite paintings, classy cigarette and business card holders, cedar wood laser-cut boxes that have to be seen to be fully appreciated in their delicacy, wood-turned bowls with deep, rich wood grain...the list goes on. For larger purchases, the gallery will deliver free of charge within the Tacoma area.

Owners Stella Vera and Nick Fediay and gallery director/artist Therese Tucker created Constellation Art Gallery with a specific vision in mind – “where the individual artists are the ‘stars’ that create the ‘constellation,’” said Vera, whose own name is found within the very name of the business – ConSTELLAtion.

Originally, Tucker owned an art and sales gallery in Opera Alley called Urban Alchemy. Upon meeting Vera and Fediay, the three hit it off immediately and decided to pool their resources. Tucker closed her shop and relocated to Sixth Avenue where the three opened the doors to their new business, also called Urban Alchemy. After some consideration, the trio decided a name change was in order, and thus Constellation Art Gallery was born to better reflect what lies beyond its doors.

They chose Sixth Avenue because they like the vibe of the neighborhood and see the potential of The Ave to continue rising as a go-to place for shoppers looking to spend their money locally. With its numerous restaurants and specialty stores already in place, and more on the way, Sixth Avenue’s destiny seems to be in line with Constellation Art Gallery’s goal to help generate more foot traffic through attractive shopping options for visitors to “The Ave” and for those who live and work in the neighborhood.

“There is so much potential,” Vera said. She and Fediay, who is also president of the Sixth Avenue Business District Association, purchased the building about six years ago and gave it a beautiful remodeling.

“This was a big step for us, but we believe in each other. Nick and I had a vision, and we knew what we wanted the space to be like. There’s nothing like this on The Ave or nearby, so we wanted to bring something with a price point for every budget whether you’re buying a gift for someone or a special piece of art or gift item for yourself.” At Constellation Art Gallery, customers can buy an original price of art for under $40 and handmade jewelry for under $50. There are higher-priced fine art pieces as well, as the gallery runs the gamut in its stock of merchandise.

“We wanted to make sure that the mix of items in our gallery would complement the existing neighboring businesses,” Fediay said. “Our focus was to bring to Sixth Avenue a unique shopping experience, to make a difference in the community and at the same time support the artists in the region.”

“When it all came to fruition, it was incredible and just so rewarding to be able to see the artists so excited about being able to showcase their art,” Vera said, noting that the artists change out their art every three months or so to keep it fresh.

Each month the gallery spotlights a new “Featured Artist,” and for November it’s painter and children’s book author Alexis St. John. A master of dreaming up gentle animals, tender beings and tranquil landscapes, St. John’s art blends the familiar with the fantastical and speaks to the child in all of us.

“I like to paint images that create a whimsical yet peaceful experience,” she says. “The beings in my paintings and books speak softly, but have a lot to say if you take the time to listen.”

The public is invited to come and meet St. John at her opening reception and book signing on Nov. 1.

As one of Constellation’s resident artists and gallery director, Tucker works behind the counter and offers her mixed media artworks for sale. She describes herself as an actress, artist, mom, wife and “star fairy caught in human form, bringing sparkles and magic to the world one piece of art at a time.” This description certainly does justice to her artwork, which bring a sense of wonder to the viewer and even a sense of happiness just by looking at them.

Constellation Art Gallery is on the Art Bus stop during each monthly Art Mingle. Be sure to check out the gallery’s front window installations dedicated to their artist of the month. “What’s exciting about it is a lot of our artists are two-dimensional artists – they do paintings – so the challenge for them is to bring their style of artwork to life in a three-dimensional way,” Tucker said.

The gallery also donates art to charity fundraisers and does other things to give back to the community. Call the gallery at (253) 625-7107 and visit