Mike Bossing removes the ArtEast sign during its closing party. From left: David Lutrick, Monica Phillips and Mike Bossing.

Mike Bossing removes the ArtEast sign during its closing party. From left: David Lutrick, Monica Phillips and Mike Bossing.

ArtEast celebrates memories at closing party

ArtEast closed its doors July 31.

ArtEast Arts Center opened its doors one last time to celebrate its legacy with friends, family and community members on July 30.

After 14 years of operation, ArtEast has closed.

ArtEast board directors made the announcement on the center’s Facebook page July 18.

“We are heartbroken to share that due to an ongoing lack of critical funding and insufficient cash flow to maintain operations, ArtEast will be closing by the end of the month,” the announcement stated.

ArtEast’s last day of retail sales was Sunday, July 21.

“From its founding days, ArtEast has been a volunteer-driven organization full of spirit and passion. We have often felt that spirit and passion reflected back to us by our students, artists, teachers, loyal customers, neighbors and partners,” the announcement states, now hung in ArtEast’s front window. “There are countless, great stories that have taken place at ArtEast over the last 14 years, and there is no doubt that it has been a special place for all of us.”

ArtEast was a nonprofit organization that supported visual arts on the Eastside through its collective gallery, educational programs and community events.

More than 40 people attended ArtEast’s closing party. With light refreshments in hand and an “I believe in art” sticker on their shirts, attendees shared stories, laughs and a few tears.

Shelly Vollstedt was a clay instructor at ArtEast for the past 10 years. To her, ArtEast was a home away from home.

“It was a really dynamic place to get together and make art,” she said. “It was my home away from home — it was a place to share with others, teach and learn.”

She said ArtEast was a place for people to start in art. “Its goal was to bring art to everyone—include everyone.”

Former trustee for ArtEast and former board member for the Downtown Issaquah Association (DIA) Kathy Scearce said ArtEast was an integral part of downtown.

“Everyone congregated here,” she said. “This was the place to come to. It was a fixture in downtown where the DIA had a lot of events. Now, we have events but no ArtEast.”

ArtEast left a lasting influence not only on the city, but to the people as well. For Art Robles, ArtEast became a form of recovery.

“I was recovering from cancer,” he said. “I came here and saw what was happening. I wasn’t ever really into doing art, but I started painting. I now have a studio over in Gig Harbor.”

He credits ArtEast’s success to the community it was built by.

“It was just the right people at the right time,” he said. “They created something really unique,” he said. “The synergy of people involved made it what it was. It was really the power of community through visual arts.”

The closing party included the removing of ArtEast furniture and fixtures — including the ArtEast sign that hung above the front door.

Mike Bossing, ArtEast’s accountant for the last 11 months of operation, climbed a ladder and removed the yellow and red ArtEast sign. Former board member Monica Phillips and artist David Lutrick guarded him as he removed the sign.

“It’s just really sad,” Bossing said. “It was fun and well-loved, but love don’t pay the bills.”

While there will not be a designated place for art in Issaquah, Lutrick — among many others — believes art will continue in the area.

“There will be groups to grow and expand to fill the need for art,” he said. “There will be replacements.”

Vollstedt agreed.

“But who’s going to do what we did? I’m afraid that we’ve lost momentum,” she said. “But, I like to think of this as like a spring cleaning. We now have a clean slate, learn from mistakes and start again.”

Photos by Madison Miller / staff photo
                                Kathy Scearce, Andrea Lewicki and Lemoine Radford play ArtEast’s “wheel of fortune” at closing party.

Photos by Madison Miller / staff photo Kathy Scearce, Andrea Lewicki and Lemoine Radford play ArtEast’s “wheel of fortune” at closing party.

More in News

Issaquah City Hall. File photo
Utility assistance program to launch in January

New aid available for low income residents as tax, rate increases approach.

Washington Low Income Housing Alliance is among supporters of statewide “just cause” legislation to protect tenants in Washington. However, some landlords say removing the ability to quickly remove tenants limits their ability to get rid of problem renters. (Courtesy image)
Tenant advocates prepare for another push in Olympia

Following wins in Burien and Federal Way, just cause evictions are on the 2020 Legislative agenda.

A sign for the Historic Shell Holiday shop in front of the Station’s exterior. The shop runs weekends Thanksgiving through Christmas in downtown Issaquah. Courtesy photos.
Historic Shell Holiday Shop underway

Local artists, crafters sell handmade gifts in downtown Issaquah.

Photo courtesy of Linda Gingrich
                                Master Chorus Eastside at their 2017 performance of “A Christmas Carol.”
A Christmas chorale shines new light on classic Dickens tale

A synthesis of readers theater and Christmas carols, Master Chorus Eastside presents “A Christmas Carol.”

Fire along Twisp River Road in the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest in 2018. Courtesy photo
Wildfire response: State unveils funding legislation proposal

Last year, Department of Natural Resources responded to record number of wildfires.

A new report, complete with recommendations to the Legislature, has been released by a statewide task force that was formed to address a lack of child care in Washington. File photo
Report outlines lack of child care in Washington

In King County, supply doesn’t meet demand for child care.

Demonstrators from La Resistencia protest Amazon’s involvement with ICE. Photo courtesy of La Resistencia
How will the U.S. respond to climate refugees?

Business as usual has been harder borders, are there other ways to address climate migration?

FBI: Three hate crimes in Issaquah in 2018

State hate crime trend has minor decline; crimes toward LGBTQ rise.

A young girl holds up a ‘Don’t Pollute I Live Here’ sign in the crowd during the Youth Climate Strike at Cal Anderson Park on Friday, March 15, 2019 in Seattle, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
King County builds blueprint for health, climate change

The plan will inform how the Board of Health addresses climate change-related health issues.

Most Read