Arts and Entertainment

Rockwater Art Center: A love story

Artists Carrie Goller (left) and Derek Gundy (right) along with Goller
Artists Carrie Goller (left) and Derek Gundy (right) along with Goller's husband Jeff are opening a new art gallery and retreat in Poulsbo.
— image credit: Jennifer Morris/Staff Photo

In a turn-of-the-century farmhouse on the outskirts of Poulsbo, there is a doorpost covered in pencil markings.

The names of children, a family dog and even a beloved housekeeper are written next to lines indicating height. The markings are preserved like a stack of tiny snapshots, little details left behind in a once-busy household.

On April 17, in what will be the first of many invitations, the public can view the space that once housed the incomparable rhythms of a family — a space now housing art. The Rockwater Art Center, a private gallery and working studio, will also host its first art classes next month.

If these walls could talk

“This will be alive with growth,” said Carrie Goller, waving her arm toward a flower bed, the flick of her wrist like a brushstroke. In the coming months the land near her porch will be colored in the hues of spring as irises, tulips and daffodils rise.

Goller was once too busy for such conversations; the native Bainbridge islander worked late nights and long weeks as a paralegal, making the trip from Bainbridge to Seattle daily. Then she met and married an “escaped banker,” a man named Jeff, and for two decades they occupied a little farmhouse on Rude Road. Six years ago, after a bout with breast cancer, Goller began to paint.

“Because of Jeff I am an artist,” she said. “Jeff has taught me to take risks.”

Goller, 48, now sells pieces in several galleries throughout the region.

Fruit trees surround her farmhouse, offering cherries, plums and apples in their seasons. There is a lavender farm on the one-acre lot, and a nearby herb garden.

But the land’s most striking features were created by Goller’s husband, owner of Goller Grade and Gravel, the county’s first general contractor certified as an EnviroStar recipient. Jeff built four fountains on their property, each trickling into fish-filled ponds, each colored with green plant life. There is a “Bermuda Triangle” amid his work, where one can hear three fountains simultaneously.

The Gollers moved from their farmhouse last year. After attempts to rent it out weren’t realized, they decided to change their approach. The two partnered with Derek Gundy, an artist and framer with Artists’ Edge, to turn the historic structure into a creators’ retreat.

On the walls of the house now hang an array of Goller’s work, her oil paintings, sculptures and encaustic pieces. In part the building will serve as her own gallery. Sitting in the dining room around a wooden table, Gundy and Goller jitter with a fresh energy.

Swapping ideas, both say they’ve jolted awake at night, their minds wound by their new undertaking. They began planning only a month ago.

Quietly, without pause to the conversation, Jeff reaches to center one of his wife’s paintings on the wall. He adjusts it ever so lightly, the way a child first feels the edges of a feather. It hangs across from the doorpost that still measures their family’s growth.

Rockwater Art Center

Named in honor of the land’s aquascape, and in tribute to the years of work Goller accomplished there, Rockwater Art Center is preparing to accept art students and instructors. Teachers from as far as Russia and Canada are scheduled to hold courses which, unlike classes already offered in the area, will often span a number of days.

“This isn’t a place for artists to come and hang their work, but it is a place for education,” said Gundy.

The West Sound Arts Council will hold its annual meeting at Rockwater Art Center, and plein air artist Ron Stocke will hold a two-day workshop beginning April 16.

The house is flooded with natural light, lined with large windows and walls a muted kind of colorful. Gundy said 2009 was a difficult year for art galleries, though individual artists tended to see good sales. He and Goller are hoping to continue on that momentum.

Gundy has already placed an easel in one of the home’s workspaces, and has started a painting of fish. At 39, he has inherited a place in the art trade; his grandfather ran a museum and his father ran a shop similar to Artists’ Edge.

Gundy creates many pieces related to water and fish. Upon first visiting the Goller’s property, with its many fountains and ponds, he immediately felt at home. He introduced the idea for a learning center, and the Gollers loved the bait.

“I get a real charge out of (helping other artists),” he said. “Already I feel like I’m helping to create jobs for artists.”

He and Goller met through the Artists’ Edge, and developed their working relationship when he framed a few of her paintings. The two say as a pair they’re good at getting things done.

“I need Derek and Derek needs me,” Goller said. They are planning a fish-themed art competition to benefit Poulsbo’s Fish Park, among many other events.

“I think we’re going to have a tremendous amount of fun,” Gundy added.

Rockwater Art Center will be open by appointment only. To schedule one, call Derek Gundy at (360) 779-2337. To learn more about the Rockwater Art Center, visit To learn more about Carrie Goller’s artwork, visit, and to learn about Jeff Goller’s aquascaping, visit

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Oct 21
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates