Lewis Hardware store could become downtown arts center

June 11, 2010

By Chantelle Lusebrink

NEW — 7:58 p.m. June 11, 2010

ArtEAST members have signed a letter of intent to lease Lewis Hardware for a future arts center.

Lease negotiations will proceed with the building’s owners in the next week, artEAST Executive Director Karen Abel said.

The group started a grassroots fundraising operation prior to the June 4 Issaquah ArtWalk to raise $20,000 needed to proceed with signing the lease. The group raised that well in advance of their June 11 deadline, thanks to generous donations from the community, Abel said.

ArtEAST organizers have been eyeing the vacant Lewis Hardware storefront at 95 Front St. N., across the street from their Upfront Gallery, 48 Front St. N. Only recently did it become clear they couldn’t pass up the opportunity to grow and reach their goal of one day owning an arts center to better serve the community, Abel said.

“It has been a goal of ours since the beginning to build an arts center,” Abel said.

ArtEAST formed roughly five years ago as a nonprofit organization to support arts and artists in the greater Issaquah community. An arts center would help further that mission, she said.

With more than double the space of Upfront Gallery, organizers have a vision of a community arts center that would allow everyone access to the arts and the ability to tap into their creative side. Young or old, beginning or well established, all artists would be welcome to use the center.

Having the various groups in one space would likely spur even better mentorship opportunities, partnerships and artistic accomplishments, Abel said. But the next steps they take will have to be with community support.

Organizers estimate that it will take another $20,000 to begin planning with the community to configure the space into a workable arts center and providing programming.

Donate at Upfront Gallery or call 996-8553.

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