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VALA Art Center opening at town center next weekend
The mission of Venues for Artists in the Local Area Eastside (VALA) is to connect artists to artists, artists to the community and the community to art and come next week, the nonprofit will be one step closer to achieving it.
On March 8, the VALA Art Center will open at 7303 164th Ave. N.E. in Redmond Town Center. This center, according to the VALA website, will provide a space for “visual artists and the community to tap into their creative side and enjoy the visual arts.”
“It’s a place where people can create, be inspired, see art,” said founder Jessica Lambert.
She said the art center will allow VALA to put into effect all the things they have talked about since the organization started: a long-term space for programming and events, which can be difficult because they haven’t had a permanent location until now. The new center will feature artist residencies, artwork installations, public events, educational programs and other opportunities for local artists and the community to connect. Artists will also be able to host workshops and give art demonstrations at the center.
In addition to the main space where events and programming will be held, there are also a resource center and studio.
“We have a lot of space to create,” Lambert said.
The all-ages center will be open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with evening events on the weekend.
The first big event will be an opening party and artist reception from 6-8 p.m. on March 8. The reception will unveil the center’s inaugural installation, “Heavy Metal” by Shawn and Erika Simon. The City of Redmond’s poet laureate Jeannine Hall Gailey will also make an appearance and read a few poems. Music will be provided throughout the evening by Rulon Brown and Bill Horist.
Other opening-weekend events include a free artist reception on March 9 at the Marriott Hotel in the town center from 3-6 p.m. and a free open house at the VALA Art Center from 1-3 p.m. on March 10.
Although the art center is just opening this month, Lambert said they already have much of the year planned. There will be three artists in residence: Damian Grava of the Redmond Clay Studio from April to June, photographer Debbie Donaway from September to October and fiber artist Suzanne Tidwell from November to December. Lambert said the artists in residence will be able to do installations and events to connect with the community.
VALA has had an ongoing relationship with Redmond Town Center beginning with the arts festival in the summer of 2012. Later, there was the VALA Art Shop held in the same location as the art center, which was a venue for artists to sell their artwork, meet other artists and people in the community. Lambert said the artists involved were excited to be part of it and kept it open longer than they originally planned.
“They took turns, they made it, they owned it,” she said. “That was obviously very encouraging.”
With the shop’s success, Lambert said they pitched the idea of the art center to the managing office at the town center, who loved the idea — so much so that Redmond Town Center has donated the space to VALA.
Lambert said as long as no long-term tenants want the space, they are able to occupy it, rent free. As a nonprofit, she said they wouldn’t be able to afford to operate and the town center’s in-kind donation is much appreciated.
“This entire organization is a labor of love,” she said.