by Kirby LindsayFremont First Friday Art Walkers can wander west on October 1st, as artists and artisans in the Ballard ActivSpace building (700 NW 42nd St) open their studios for art connoisseurs, careful shoppers and the frankly curious.
The Draw To Be Active
Seattle has five ActivSpace buildings, out of 12 located over three states, and three of those surround Fremont (the other two located at 4020 Leary Way N.W. and 819 North 49th Street.) Co-owner Jude Siddal described ActivSpace tenants by saying, “they’ve all got an entrepreneurial spirit. These are the people who spend their extra money to come and create,” she explained, rather than on theater tickets, new clothes, or dining out.
While the economy looked up, ActivSpace teemed with hobbyists, seeking space outside their homes for their pastimes. Today, they see more businesses that downsize into the simple office/storage spaces, or people frustrated with the job market and choosing to follow their dream of starting their own business. Siddal quickly rattled off a long, long list of tenant uses, that began with jewelers, photographers, bookkeepers, hair, floor installers, pet food creator (and distributor), florist, inventors, technology based businesses, film & video production, etc.
They can’t offer a traditional storefront, but ActivSpace still provides a professional location for clients to visit. “Everyone gets their own window and heat source, and they’ve all got their own door,” Siddal explained about the units. “We had to make them small, so we keep the prices low,” she allowed, but “we give the taller ceilings so they could have lofty ideas.”
For some tenants, low rent served as a major selling point - but not the only one. Heidi Hackler, of Dolphin Design, does graphic and jewelry design. She has rented in the Ballard ActivSpace for ten years, and acknowledged that rents have stayed low throughout her stay. Also, “I used to live in Wallingford, now in Magnolia,” she explained, “and it’s very convenient.” For her clients it’s easy to reach. “It’s a great concept,” Hackler praised.
Mary Powers, of Mary Powers Jewelry, shopped around before choosing ActivSpace, located on the Burke-Gilman trail, for her studio. “I can ride my bike here,” she said. She also likes the low cost, the 24-hour access, and, most important for her, permission to use a torch in her metal work – something she couldn’t get elsewhere.
For Teresa Burrelsman, a simple dilemma led her to move her work out of her condo, “wet paint and cats don’t mix,” she wrote by e-mail. As an oil painter, the solvents also create problems of health, and home owner’s insurance. The ActivSpace studio, with a window and a sink, provides a safe, quiet work space – to paint sans fur.
Both Burrelsman and Powers lamented the lack of a cohesive artist community in their building, as exists in artist only buildings. Both hope the October 1st Art Walk – and the opening of studio doors – will help create that community.
The Art of the Draw
Lauren Rudeck, of LaRu, will open her studio (unit #307) during Art Walk. She described it as “a cozy space that allows me to draw, paint, play with polymer clay and resin, and create new objects.” Her “wearable art” consists of clay, hand drawn, original illustrations and resins. “I enjoy using bright colors and drawing images that make people smile,” she wrote in an e-mail, “I am inspired by robots, skulls, bunnies, octopi, owls and other creatures.”
Burrelsman will show works from her recent ‘Contemplation’ series, “a set of still life drawings of vases, bottles and other everyday objects,” as she described them. Her architecture background can be seen in their strong drawing and good proportion, but she also incorporates a slight abstraction, “to create softness and calm,” according to her Artist Statement.
Both Hackler and Powers design jewelry, of two very different styles. Hackler works with glass beads in her sterling silver earrings, bracelets, necklaces and zipper-pulls. Powers uses “a lot of antiques,” that she finds, “and recreates into new jewelry,” she explained. She likes the energy the history of these elements brings to her original creations. “My jewelry morphs into something new all the time,” she said.
“Having a space outside your home makes you concentrate on your business as a serious venture,” Rudeck wrote. Siddal said essentially the same, “if you pay for something, you’re going to take yourself more seriously.” The artists that have chosen to open their studios during the First Friday Art Walk have been seriously at work. Stop by to see what their activity has wrought.
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.