While operating the McVarish Gallery on 10th Street in downtown Astoria, Oregon, Jill McVarish discovered a hallway with a long-abandoned room at its end.
Jill and her band of ambitious and visionary artists and artisans repaired and restored the room to a functional and relatively safe state and it served as a back gallery to the McVarish Gallery for several months.
Over the months, the room’s many charms began to draw larger crowds and more attention than the main gallery; and it soon became apparent it needed to become the main attraction.
Through a series of events that can only happen in a magical place like Astoria, Jill met computer guru and author of novels about underground clown society Chris Minnick, who also saw the potential that this strange room held. Together, they formed a plan to combine forces and found an art gallery dedicated to producing exhibitions and events featuring notable contemporary artists with compelling and unusual stories to tell.
The result of their work officially opened on July 1, 2019 as The Secret Gallery.
About Jill McVarish
Jill McVarish grew up Northern California and began painting seriously at the age of four. At 15 she dropped out of high school to dedicate more time to her work. She received a BFA in 1994 from the San Francisco Art Institute. There, she was further introduced to the possibilities in painting, not only through the curriculum, but also the exchange of energy and ideas with fellow artists. From there she enrolled at the prestigious Garrett Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, where she learned that “painting is dead as an art form.” Unsure how to proceed given this devastating news, she bought a pass to the Rijksmuseum and let the Dutch masters become her primary painting instructors. She now reflects on those years as the most definitive in the formation of her style of blending her acknowledgment of contemporary and more absurdist art with a reverence for traditional painting and visual composition.
About Chris Minnick
Chris Minnick grew up in Detroit and studied creative writing, literature, journalism, and film at the University of Michigan. After leaving college, he published a humor and travel zine and worked his way up from writing classified ads and death notices to writing feature-length articles and reviews at newspapers and magazines in Ann Arbor, Detroit, and San Francisco.
At 25 years old, he quit the corporate world and started his first company. Since then, he’s founded or co-founded 7 companies and has authored or co-authored over a dozen books; including titles in the For Dummies series, several books for teaching kids to code, and two novels. Chris is also an enthusiastic amateur musician, filmmaker, winemaker, doodler, and learner.