Chuck Forinash has seen the Newport Bayfront change many times over the past few decades. In fact, he has an easy reference for just how much has changed since 1980: before he owned Forinash Gallery, he was commissioned to take photos that documented all the businesses and such on the Bayfront.
“Undersea Gardens is who hired me to take these pictures in 1980,” said Forinash. “Undersea Gardens said, ‘hey, mister young photographer dude, take pictures of the whole Bayfront, end to end.’ And they were visioning what the Bayfront was for their corporate people in Victoria, B.C., so they could (see) the Bayfront before they did Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and the Wax Works.”
That photo series is on display at Forinash Gallery until Feb. 9, when his Bayfront business will close for the last time. The gallery, which has been based on the Bayfront for a little more than 20 years, was provided with notice, and the building — which previously housed Sharks Seafood Restaurant as well — will be undergoing some renovation before a new business opens there. The property’s developer told the News-Times on Monday, Jan. 20, that they would be applying for a conditional use permit from the city soon and, following that, announce their plans.
Forinash began his career in Newport as a staff photographer at the News-Times straight out of college. After a few months, a change in ownership caused his position to be eliminated. At that time, he decided it was time to try his hand at being an entrepreneur. He made a line of 10 scenic postcards that launched his independent photography career.
“And I still have postcards out and about that I sell,” said Forinash. “At JC Market, et cetera.”
After gaining some stability, Forinash opened a working studio and framing shop in South Beach in 1981, which remains open today. In 1999, he opened the gallery.
While talking with the News-Times, Forinash expressed his gratitude to Barbara Parson and Suzy Johnson, who were both longtime employees of the gallery.
With only a few weekends left to conduct the closing sale, consignment pieces are full price, but all else will be marked down 25-40 percent, and the gallery is highly motivated to sell. Forinash said the gallery’s motto is “the art doesn’t have to match the couch.” He encourages all to come in, enjoy a complimentary wine tasting and pick out a piece that speaks to you. Additionally, Forinash is working to donate a portion of the sales made before Feb. 9 to local nonprofits.
Forinash Gallery, located at 856 SW Bay Boulevard is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday through Sunday.