Seattle's Central District

Wa Na Wari: a Seattle version of 'Hotel California'

When I reluctantly ended my first visit to Wa Na Wari, I told one of the co-founders if I didn’t get out now, I’d never leave this home-turned-gallery space. Apparently that was plan all along: get people in the door with the art, then lull them into staying. Kinda like Hotel California, but homey instead of sinister.

Wa Na Wari co-founder Rachel Kessler and visitors

Wa Na Wari co-founder Rachel Kessler and visitors

Creative reminders of home are woven throughout the house, like the hanging sculptures by Henry Jackson-Spieker. They literally mark “places that were points of gatherings or comfort” when the Greene family lived there.

Henry Jackson-Spieker glass & wood sculpture above family table

Henry Jackson-Spieker glass & wood sculpture above family table

Wa Na Wari continues the revived trend of home-based art exhibit spaces. Not pop-ups — permanent galleries. No surprise that New York artists have done this in apartments — or just in one apartment room — considering New York rents. The phenomenon seems to be solidifying in Seattle and nearby communities too, as real estate gets pricier by the minute.

Still from “Remembering Her Homecoming,” a film by Natassja E. Swift

Still from “Remembering Her Homecoming,” a film by Natassja E. Swift

The thing I love the most about Wa Na Wari, though, is it still feels welcoming like a home — not merely a house-shaped gallery. In fact, the view into the backyard shook me for a moment: it’s strongly reminiscent of my grandparents’ home in Kentucky, which no longer exists.

Contemplating art & community with Wa Na Wari co-founder Inye Wokoma

Contemplating art & community with Wa Na Wari co-founder Inye Wokoma

This weekend is an especially good time to visit: environmental artist and icon Marita Dingus is teaching a doll-making class on August 11th. Plus, her own doll sculptures are on display upstairs.

Selected works by Marita Dingus

Selected works by Marita Dingus

If you have so much fun you can’t bear to leave, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Tours now open at Liberty Bank Building

Guess what I found out about the Liberty Bank Building? So many people are so curious about what’s inside that tours are now open to the general public!

If you’d like to see my collage portraits in the residents’ lounge, you’ll need to sign up for one of the weekly tours. Here are the available dates:

Tour groups will be small — only 14 people per visit. I’d sign up right now right now if I were you…

Liberty Bank Building: when worlds converge

My art planets must be aligned this weekend: two pieces of Seattle history are converging, and I’ve made art inspired by both!

When the Liberty Bank Building apartments open for Saturday afternoon’s grand opening party, you’ll get the chance to see the collage portraits I made of the bank’s founders. Those pieces are permanently installed in the Residents’ Lounge… and I just found out Miriam Pratt will be one of the people living here!

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We met a few months ago at the exhibit opening of “Living the Dream, Dreaming the Life” which honored Miriam’s father Edwin Pratt. This year marks the 50th anniversary of his assassination., and honors his civil rights activism. At Shoreline City Hall, you can see artwork inspired by images from the Pratt family archives (now held by the Black Heritage Society of Washington) .

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In a Seattle Medium interview , Miriam said her new home at Liberty Bank is just a few blocks away from where her parents lived before they moved to Shoreline. Talk about coming full-circle… this move sounds positively cinematic in its resolution.

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Come help her (and us artists) celebrate!