ArtWalk returns for 10th season

May 3, 2011

Pedestrians pause to admire art displayed at the former UP Front Gallery during ArtWalk last year. The gallery has since relocated down the street. File

The DownTown Issaquah Association’s 10th annual ArtWalk season kicks off May 6. The popular event, the first Friday of every month through September, invites visitors to meet local business owners, enjoy free music, watch artists in action, and shop and dine in downtown Issaquah after normal business hours.

ArtWalk draws hundreds of visitors to traditional art destinations such as artEAST’s Art Center and the newly expanded Museo Art and Design School on Front Street. In addition, nontraditional locations open their doors to the event throughout downtown Issaquah and Gilman Village.

Typically, the event ran from 5-9 p.m. in the past. But by popular request, that has changed.

“The event now runs from 5-8 p.m. with a soft close at 8,” said Annique Bennett, cultural events coordinator for the DownTown Issaquah Association. “Those with signs out front of their businesses can now pull them in and go home at 8, or they can choose to stay open as long as they want to.”

For May, artEAST opens a new exhibit, “150 Feet of Art,” at Up Front Art. More than 100 pieces of art on one-square-foot canvases will be displayed and available for purchase during the monthlong auction.

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DownTown Issaquah Association charts new course

April 26, 2011

The decision to oust the longtime DownTown Issaquah Association executive director has not impeded the organization in the run-up to ArtWalk, a spring and summer staple for downtown merchants.

Organizers credited former Executive Director Greg Spranger and former Cultural Events Manager Michael Johnson with building solid support for the event.

The upcoming ArtWalk has focused renewed attention on a February staff shakeup at the downtown business organization. ArtWalk returns for a 10th season May 6 and runs one Friday each month until September.

DownTown Issaquah Association leaders decided to scrap the executive director position and hired another candidate as community relations manager rather than longtime executive director Spranger. Johnson then resigned in protest.

The decision prompted angry letters to the editor and hard feelings among some downtown merchants and supporters.

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Press Editorial

April 26, 2011

Future is undetermined for downtown boosters

The DownTown Issaquah Association has come under much criticism for reviewing and rewriting the job description of its leading staff member, and then hiring a new employee.

It may be that DIA needs to go one step further.

Currently, DIA has a community relations director and an events coordinator. It’s questionable whether both are really needed.

An events coordinator to manage ArtWalk five Friday nights a year, a car show in June, a spring cleaning of downtown, and a few other promotional activities that bring shoppers to Front Street and nearby businesses may be all DIA needs to focus on in this trimmer economy.

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Press Editorial

March 1, 2011

Downtown Issaquah has opportunity ahead

The DownTown Issaquah Association has a new director. That announcement may seem insignificant, but at second glance, the association is important to everyone who lives here.

Newcomers repeatedly say it is the historic downtown along Front Street that is a prime factor is choosing Issaquah. It’s that last vestige of bygone Norman Rockwell-like days that lure people here.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that doing business in this central core is easy. The downtown has its problems — like traffic, lack of adequate parking and lack of a destination store. But it has its pluses — at the heart of the civic area, lower rents and it’s pedestrian friendly.

When Village Theatre expanded to its Mainstage theater, it was predicted that the downtown would become a cultural district. It took years to do that, but over time came the opening of the new Issaquah Library, the monthly ArtWalks and weekly Music on the Streets, the founding of artEAST and its Up Front gallery, and other businesses rounding out the scene with art and music classes. More restaurants followed, some with live music of their own.

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DownTown Issaquah Association replaces longtime director

March 1, 2011

Downtown Issaquah booster Greg Spranger — nicknamed “Captain Downtown” — is out at the DownTown Issaquah Association after leading the organization for more than a decade.

DownTown Issaquah Association President David Irons said the organization is pursuing a different approach to boosting businesses and programs in the historic downtown. So, the board scrapped the executive director position Spranger held, and created a community relations manager post as a replacement.

Greg Spranger

The board hired Issaquah resident Tanya Alter for the post. Irons announced the appointment Feb. 28, the same day Alter started in the part-time position.

“When looking at her résumé, she had the attributes we were looking for in a candidate,” Irons said.

The organization put out a call for applicants in January; 42 people applied for the position, including Spranger.

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Issaquah offers grants to arts organizations, programs

November 9, 2010

The city Arts Commission seeks cultural organizations and programs for the latest round of arts grants.

Each year, the city awards grants to organizations to present performances and programs in the city and local schools.

Organizations must apply for the grant dollars by Nov. 15. Download the application here.

For 2010, commissioners awarded $128,825 to 21 projects. The lineup included ArtWalk, Issaquah Farmers Market entertainment, Concerts on the Green, Shakespeare on the Green, performances at local schools and programs to help troubled youths.

The city generates money for the grants though a 5 percent admissions tax on movie theaters and special events.

Commissioners received 22 grant applications from 18 organizations for the 2010 grants. The commission recommended 21 grants to the City Council for approval.

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Meet artists Saturday as artEAST opens downtown gallery

November 4, 2010

NEW — 3 p.m. Nov. 4, 2010

Issaquah nonprofit artEAST settles in at the historic Lewis Hardware space Saturday, and the public can stop by to tour the gallery.

The free open house runs from noon to 5 p.m. at the former hardware store, 95 Front St. S. Attendees can see art exhibits and art demonstrations, join guided figure drawing sessions, meet local artists, and learn about upcoming art classes and workshops.

The center — 3,250 square feet in downtown Issaquah — represents a substantial investment for the local arts community. Besides Issaquah, artEAST has about 80 members from across the Eastside, including Maple Valley and North Bend.

The arts center is also due to serve as a hub during ArtWalk events during the spring and summer months. ArtWalk returns in May.

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Issaquah offers grants to arts organizations, programs

October 16, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. Oct. 16, 2010

The city Arts Commission seeks cultural organizations and programs for the latest round of arts grants.

Each year, the city awards grants to organizations to present performances and programs in the city and local schools.

Organizations must apply for the grant dollars by Nov. 15. Find application information here.

For 2010, commissioners awarded $128,825 to 21 projects. The lineup included ArtWalk, Issaquah Farmers Market entertainment, Concerts on the Green, Shakespeare on the Green, performances at local schools and programs to help troubled youth.

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A new parent’s nightmare

September 21, 2010

Mother remains in the hospital while father cares for the baby

Nate Bower looks down at his daughter, Sage, in their home near May Valley, as they wait for wife and mother Sarah Bower to return home from the hospital. By Greg Farrar

By the time Sage Bower was born in the early hours of Aug. 24, her mother, Sarah Bower, was already in a coma after experiencing a hemorrhagic stroke.

“It was the scariest thing I had ever been through,” said Sarah’s husband, Nate Bower. “I thought I was losing her right there. I was yelling at her to try to get her to talk. Words can’t explain it.”

Sarah and Nate Bower were ecstatic about being new parents. The two had met through friends at church and married in 2001, living in Issaquah before they moved to Maple Valley and then next to May Valley. Read more

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ArtWalk plans to go out with a bang at finale

August 31, 2010

A pedestrian pauses to look at art displayed at the UP Front Gallery sidewalk on Front Street North during ArtWalk. By Greg Farrar

The start of Labor Day weekend marks the end for ArtWalk.

Before the outdoor happening goes on hiatus until May 2011, head to downtown Issaquah and Gilman Village for a final first Friday of artists and musicians. ArtWalk runs from 5-9 p.m. Sept. 3 along Front Street and in Gilman Village, 317 N.W. Gilman Blvd.

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