The Basalt Gallery hosts an exhibition of miniature art

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MOSES LAKE – The first thing you notice when you enter the Basalt Art Gallery in downtown Moses Lake is the pungent smell of disinfectant.

But that doesn’t come from hand sanitizer gallery owner Nate Ullmer.

“I make soap, that’s why it smells like disinfectant,” Ullmer said. “I can’t really feel it. It all forms a miasma, and when I get here in the morning, I can smell it for five minutes, and then I can’t smell it anymore.

A glass display case holds soap cakes, some cut into simple bars and others pressed into various shapes and forms, such as the Venus of Willendorf, a Stone Age statue of a woman nearly 30,000 years old .

“I can just feel it on my forehead,” he added.

Soapmaking is one of the ways Ullmer said he’s adapted to running his gallery during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Another is to host the 14th annual Desert Artists Group Miniature Painting Exhibition. Ordinarily hosted by Umpqua Bank, the exhibition of tiny paintings – none can measure more than six inches long from any side – had to be held elsewhere due to restrictions on public gatherings imposed in the wake of the pandemic of COVID-19.

“Umpqua said they will not be opening for rallies or a show in the lobby,” said Judy Kalin, one of the featured artists in the miniature exhibit. “I contacted Nate, and he was very kind.”

“I spoke with the artists and said, do it here,” Ullmer said. “I have wall space and I need to change my walls.”

Tiny little paintings by a dozen artists hang on Ullmer’s wall depicting a wide variety of things – nature, landscapes, still lifes, animals, people, and even the abstract color blends of acrylic paint casting. One artist even painted on bird feathers.

Kalin, who also exhibits some of her work at the Moses Lake Museum and Art Center, said she started painting miniatures when her husband was sick.

“It’s just nice,” Kalin said of the miniature painting challenge. “It’s a fun place. Everyone has room for at least one thumbnail on their wall.

Ullmer said the miniature exhibit will run until the week after Thanksgiving, when it will be replaced by its own winter art exhibit.

“But I will gladly keep them if they let them,” he said.

Also, Ullmer said the small paintings were selling.

“They sell well. They are smaller and at a lower price, so they are easier to sell,” he said. “It’s easier to sell a painting for $25 than a painting for $200 or $200 or more.”

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at [email protected]

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