Seattle’s First Thursday art walks have been happening for nearly 30 years, but everyone has to have their first First. Tonight’s mine. I plan to kick things off in Pioneer Square at 619 Western Ave, a five-floor collection of artist studios that opens its doors each month for the event. It’s the most endangered artists’ hub in the city, conveniently located in the middle of the upcoming Alaskan Way Viaduct construction.
In December, the artists learned that their building was in jeopardy; they’d have to vacate by March 2012, before the city started boring the 99 tunnel beneath the century-old edifice, which was considered for demolition. But yesterday, the WSDOT announced a proposal to preserve 619 Western, suggesting that the foundation be shored and a steel frame built to stabilize it during construction. That means there’s a chance, albeit small, that artists will return to the site. Of course, whether the tunnel goes under, around or directly through the studios, all of 619 Western’s residents still have to go, so now’s the time to visit. To see the direct influence of Seattle’s transportation woes on its creative output, look for abstract paintings of the crumbling viaduct from Marie Gagnon.
Beyond 619, Ted Hiebert will introduce a collection of photo self-portraits, Werewolf Stories, at Shift Collaborative Studio. The Canadian cloaks himself in a wolf skin and plays with blacklight to explore the idea of transformation—but there are no teenage vampires here, we promise. I also plan to stop by the opening of a show by Tyson Anthony Roberts at the Corridor Gallery. Abstract works like The Grounds—“pixilated,” he calls them—resemble the rhythms and order of nature or, if you’re on the juvenile side, the backdrop to Super Mario 3.
View the slideshow above for a glimpse of everything.