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Artists and Vacant Buildings?

I came across the article, below, on MyNorthwest.com today, written by Rachel Belle, that I found interesting enough to share with you.

In a related effort, I’m working to convince developers to buy visual art from local artists as amenities for new apartment buildings and condos. Look for an update on my progress in a future post here.

Vacant Seattle Buildings Explode with Art & Music Before Demolition

When the “Proposed Land Use” sign went up in front of Don Eduardo, the Mexican restaurant across the street from KIRO, we all knew that condos were coming. But after the restaurant vacated the space we saw some guys painting the building a stark, blank white. Why would they paint the building before they knock it down? Turns out the the building is being temporarily taken over by the non-profit arts collective Love City Love.

Love City Love’s Amos Miller, along with founder Lucien Pellegrin, explains the concept of the creative space.

Love City Love“Anybody can come express themselves, whether it’s visual art, creative poetry, music, singing,” says Amos.

“Every Wednesday we have live improv music, and that’s all ages and that’s alcohol free,” explains Lucien. “The venue is also available for rentals for yoga classes or for dance parties. We’ve had a lot of fundraisers, fashion shoots. It’s not that we’re anti alcohol at all, it’s more: let’s have an alternative.”

But Love City Love has never had a permanent location. Lucien says they have only occupied buildings that will face demolition.

“Usually they’re buildings that are slated for development so they will turn into condos and retail space. So our approach is, hey, this building is vacant for the next six to eight months. Can we activate it until you develop it? And they’re like, ‘Yeah, that’d be great!’”

This is their third temporary space, and this time the developers actually came to them. Patrick Ashman is cofounder of Seattle’s Daly Partners.

“There’s a vacant building there now. So why wouldn’t we let somebody use it? We don’t want a vacant building there that’s sort of an eyesore. They gave us a budget and we basically cut it in half. We’re not doing it for the money. We just came up with a nominal amount that would basically cover utilities and insurance.”

Since Seattle started rapidly growing, and we’ve watched old buildings go down and lots of new buildings go up, there’s been a bit of a quiet war between developers and artists.

“I wanna stress so much that actually we’re not anti-condo,” says Lucien. “The whole idea is collaboration. And for all you developers out there, thank you! Seattle is changing, it’s so cool. What we need to figure out is how to work with the artist. Ideally every condo that’s developed has as a mandatory creative space. The bars are cool, the restaurants are cool, the yoga studios are cool. But what we need is a space in every developed condo that allows creatives to come together.”

glowing storefront

2010 empty storefront on Maynard Avenue South temporarily alive with art. Photo: Joshua Trujillo/Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

The concept of Love City Love reminds me of a mandala, the intricate, colored sand designs drawn by monks that are blown away and destroyed almost as soon as they’re complete.

“For a while we called it The Sand Castle Theory because you’re just going to build it, it’s going to be beautiful and then a wave is going to come knock it down,” Amos says. “And we really got into this idea of a sanctuary of impermanence. But I definitely think that’s not the goal, to have people keep knocking down really cool things.”

So Lucien hopes that the decision makers in Seattle will include artists in their planning. To keep the city, fresh and alive and creative.

“If we look at Seattle in the next ten years, without working with creatives, it’s going to be a bunch of bland, boxy condos with restaurants and bars. I would just encourage developers to perhaps research other cities that are thriving, that have incredible art cultures, that have incredible town squares where people come together.”

See Love City Love play at The Moore Theatre, November 10th, 2014 6:30pm – 9pm for the Poetry On Buses Launch Party w King County and 4Culture. Free.

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