The 4Ravens Gallery on the corner of Broadway and Higgins Avenue has expanded its showroom.

The art and fine craft gallery, which opened five years ago, leased an adjacent vacant space on Broadway to create more room for their artist-owners.

"We were getting pretty crowded," said William Munoz, one of the artist-owners. The new space gives more room on the walls and for pedestal centerpieces. It also comes with a smaller room that could be used for monthly artist showcases.

Their new lease for the space is for three years with an option to renew for two more years. They're confident that downtown will continue to grow and a new Marriott Hotel will bring in tourists who likely appreciate art.

The gallery opened five years ago, following a cooperative gallery model and an emphasis on handmade fine art and fine craft.

The current group of owner-artists is Judy Arledge (traditional basketry), Marilyn Bacon (wallets, purses and bags), Judith Colvin (hats, shawls, home decor), Ami Davis (handwoven garments), Nancy Greenfield (photography), Scot Herries (wood furniture, screenprints and mixed media), Munoz (photography), Katie Patten and Leonard Tinnell (kiln-fired glass) and Justin Stewart (stonework). They also show work by many more artists on consignment.

While many artists take advantage of online outlets like Etsy, Patten believes there's a strong base of people who want to experience a work in person before they invest in it.

"There's a connection between you and an art piece, whether it's a coffee cup you're drinking out of or a piece of art on the wall," she said.

Munoz joined the gallery three years ago. He collaborates with author Dorothy Patent on children's books; shoots landscapes and nature imagery; and shoots many concerts at the Top Hat, the Wilma and the KettleHouse Amphitheater. He also shoots local contemporary dance.

He said the cooperative model appealed to him because it exposes his work to people who appreciate high-end, handmade works. It's an effect that he's noticed elsewhere in his career.

"When I go to an art fair, if I'm set up next to a low-end vendor, I'm not going to do good," he said. Conversely, being in a gallery like 4Ravens "elevates" his work.

Patten, one of the founding artists, said they knew that they wanted to open in downtown, and their current location places them in the heart of foot traffic. They're situated at the corner of Higgins and Broadway, and share an entrance with the Dana Gallery, the oldest and largest commercial gallery in town.

They get a mix of tourists and locals, and a number of walk-ins, particularly on First Fridays. Patten said the gallery's visiting artists from out of state have been impressed by the traffic.

"They're stunned at the activity on First Friday compared to their hometowns," Patten said.

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Arts & Entertainment Reporter

Entertainment editor for the Missoulian.