Art in the U District, whoever heard of such a thing.
With the illustrious exception of the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington and the art happening on campus, Seattle's University District is not an area of town known for its galleries and art activity. But the administrators at the University Heights Center are plotting to change that. Their plans present an opportunity for enterprising local artists looking for an alternative venue for large-scale, unusual and/or innovative projects.
The University Heights Art Gallery is a brand new opportunity to create bold work in a huge, interesting historic space. Director Dorothy Lengyel and the board of trustees recently secured National Historic Landmark status for the former school as well as funding for renovations. While that does mean the building is here to stay and is valued and protected not only by the community, which rallied to save it from the clutches of Fred Meyer in the early '90's, but by the city, state and nation, it doesn't mean the U Heights folks are precious about what can be done inside and outside the building.
They are open to all manner of projects that will activate and use this amazing space. Not only that, but I can personally recommend the experience of working with the staff. They have vision, they're receptive to unusual ideas, they will work with you on every aspect of your project and help you achieve it with very few constraints.
Is it possible to expand Seattle's art field beyond Capitol Hill, Pioneer Square and Georgetown up north to the University District? I don't know but I love the idea.
With all the other inventive, small-scale venues that have popped up around town in the past couple of years, from Sierra Stinson's beloved Vignettes on Capitol to Klara Glosova's NEPO House on Beacon Hill and Season, Robert Yoder's by appointment only gallery in his Ravenna home, offsetting in their small and wonderful ways the pain of the impending closures of established larger venues, Western Bridge and Lawrimore Project, and any number of galleries, any organization with a large space that is willing to host and promote art in Seattle in my opinion should be embraced.
Aside from being accessible to the public and open all week from 9 in the morning till 10 at night, the wonderful warm space is hopping with activity. It gets a ton of foot traffic at the Saturday Farmer's Market (the oldest one in town, runs every Saturday year round) as well as during the week with all of the various businesses and organizations renting space inside as well as occasional town meetings and political events that draw literally thousands of people (the recent Democratic Caucus saw people lining up round the block with approximately 4,000 people passing through the building).
If you're interested in creating a project, the gallery is accepting new proposals beginning in Fall 2012. You can contact Outreach Coordinator Ruth Rosa after July 23 with questions or for more information.
Artists, feel free to drop me a line about my experience working with the organization. They are friendly and open to ideas on a grand scale using the interior spaces, windows and exterior spaces of the building. Your imagination's the limit. Art up north! Bring it.
Ruth Rosa, Outreach Coordinator