KINGSTON — Northwest Coastal master carver David Boxley has made another notch in a long list of accomplishments — including carving 65 totem poles in 26 years — by opening his own art gallery to showcase his family’s talents.
The Boxley Gallery had its grand opening May 5, and has been thriving since, Boxley said. A combination of his carving, his wife, Lorene’s abalone jewelry, one of his son’s work and a few items from his first cousin, the business is primarily family-based, and Boxley wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We want to gradually get the word out there that we have a gallery,” he said. “We’d like to become self-sufficient. We really have an unusual gallery in that it’s just our family, this is just my wife and I and our son.”
Boxley grew up in Metlakatla, Alaska and is a member of the Tsimshian Tribe. He studied the traditional method of carving, the language and culture with his grandparents, who raised him. He started carving about 30 years ago, and made the switch from being a school teacher to a full time artist about seven years after learning the art form.
“I was raised in a small village in Alaska, and I was interested in my ancestors all my life,” Boxley said. “Nearly 30 years ago I stared carving as a hobby… I do a variety of things, totem poles, bentwood boxes, masks, and I enjoy carving all of them.”
According to his Web site, Boxley’s work has been acquired by the king and queen of Sweden, the emperor of Japan, the president of West Germany and the mayor of Chongging in China. He has also worked to revive the Tsimshian heritage by arranging dance groups and potlatch gatherings in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.
He said he has been wanting to open a gallery for some time, but the opportunity never seemed quite right. He looked at having it in downtown Seattle, but space there was too expensive, so he waited for the right location to come along.
“We felt like this was the right time and space when the building at the ferry opened up,” Boxley said. “I’ve wanted to do a gallery for years, but I couldn’t find the ideal spot. We do a lot of traveling, and we’re full-time artists, but this just seemed to fall into place.”
He is hoping to draw collectors and art enthusiasts not only from the local areas, but also from across the water. His hope is residents will realize a gallery doesn’t have to be in the middle of a city to be prominent.
“I really believe this is a high-quality gallery,” Boxley said. “It is on par with other well-known Northwest Coastal galleries.”