Anyone who has walked the colorful streets of Ballard will be unsurprised to learn that many artists live, work, and collaborate in the neighborhood.
The Living Artists Collective, a nonprofit charity dedicated to helping low-income artists remain in Seattle, wants the community to know it’s not so easy for artists in our part of town.
“Artists are relied upon to create culture: throw events, craft art for public consumption, and generally make their neighborhood desirable. Then they are priced out of living there. It’s now more important than ever that our communities unite in support of helping artists spend more time making and less time struggling to make ends meet,” Living Artists Collective Executive Director Alaina Stocker shared.
The Living Artists Collective has ambitious plans for supporting emerging Seattle artists in the coming year.
“We are planning to bring our support to the next level by awarding financial grants to low-income emerging visual artists, and we’re seeking the community’s contributions to empower as many artists as possible.
“We are thrilled that a donor has generously offered to match gifts up to $1,500 through Giving Tuesday, November 28th, 2023. We want to empower the creative people that are adding so much to our communities, with a goal of distributing the grants in January of 2024,” Stocker said, adding that artist applications will open as soon as the first three grants are fully funded.
To shine a spotlight on artists in our local community, we asked a few Ballard artists who have shown with Living Artists Collective to share more about their practice and what they’ve been up to recently.
Jess Ray is an illustrative watercolor and acrylic artist who has lived in Ballard and worked on art out of her home for the past four years.
Jess’s kitchen table is her art space, and she says she chooses her mediums based largely on what’s easy to clean up and move when friends are coming over. She hopes to upgrade soon to accommodate working on larger pieces.
When it comes to picking subject matter, she mainly chooses to make works about people, because she likes twisting features and expressions. Jess describes her process as play, even though it is often dark or horror-themed. She explains: “I want the viewer to feel like we’ve shared an inside joke or a secret.”
Jess credits Ballard with saving her sanity during lockdown, its many beautiful outdoor spots serving as a source of inspiration and peace. She is very involved in the local art scene and especially enjoys participating at Push/Pull, the neighborhood’s source for art supplies, hand-crafted zines, workshops, artist features, and more.
This year has been exciting for Jess, displaying art all across town: A joint show with artist Neil Devlin in May at Push/Pull, a few shows at Venn Gallery (Greenwood Art Collective) throughout the year, and two with Living Artists Collective: “you are not alone” in April at Slip Gallery (Belltown) and “Support artists while they are alive” in September and October at Magnuson Park Gallery.
She’s been working on a new series lately that is, as she puts it, “a little bit about rejection, a little bit about redemption, and a lot about making fun of myself (and everyone else).” In addition, she has begun a new journey into making a graphic novel.
Sami is an artist originally from Peru focused mainly on painting. He found himself in Ballard in 2018 after moving to the U.S. with his wife and 5-month-old baby.
Sami describes driving past Dakota Art Store (now Push/Pull) and spying a house for rent close by. At first, his home was his studio, but when he needed more space he sought out a small studio on Ballard Avenue.
From his Ballard studio he teaches online and works on his projects, enjoying the peaceful space in an old building with light often streaming in until late. He says it “makes me remember my times as a painter in Paris.”
This year, Sami was approached by an art curator who put together a show of his work at Axis Gallery in Pioneer Square. It was his first opportunity to show at a gallery in Seattle, and he hopes to make more connections in the city. Sami also showed and sold his piece “Girl with Rose” during LAC’s THRIVE event at The Rendezvous in November 2022.
Sami describes his next project as being about the La Belle Époque era in Paris: Pieces depicting the French girl from the mysterious masked balls in Eyes Wide Shut by Stanley Kubrick. He hopes to finish it in mid-2024.
Andrew is a Seattle-born visual artist and musician who has called Ballard home for the last 10 years. He has gone to and played many shows in the neighborhood, and remembers Golden Gardens one of his favorite places in the city since childhood.
His musical practice exists alongside his visual art, with one informing the other literally in the same space.
Andrew makes both art forms at home in his converted attic studio, one end of which contains his drawing table, easel, and airbrushing tools; the other of which is set up for recording music. He can board up the windows for privacy and to keep the neighbors from complaining.
Andrew explained how he makes his visual creative choices, sharing that he has made smaller colorful airbrush pieces in the past that required lots of masking to complete.
His recent black and white works were born out of wanting to “explore what happens when I go big, fast and loose”, with the goal of “trying to capture the interaction of water and light.” He thinks that the piece he’s currently working on, “Koi”, might break his black-and-white streak and end up with color in it.
This year Andrew had his first chance in years to show his visual work, including his piece “AGONY & ECSTACY” in LAC’s “Support artists while they are alive” Magnuson Park Gallery show. In addition to his airbrush work, he is working on finishing an album. He enjoys pairing his songs with trippy photos he’s taken on his travels.
Follow his work on Instagram @andrewtomingas and listen to his latest song: “Flashbacks from the Fragmented Field” on Soundcloud.