What’s with the cow in the vacant lot at 202 Main St.? Let’s just say it involves art — and celebrating the July construction kickoff for new community art center Graphite.
Located on the former Mar-Vel Marble site at 2nd Avenue South and Main Street, Graphite will be a space for artists and the public to intermingle in a unique concept with studios, living spaces, and public spaces. Graphite is meant to make art accessible to all — enhancing Edmonds’ position as a Northwest arts hub.
Building features will include:
- Workshop areas for instruction and community events
- Gallery to display art
- Darkroom for photography
- Ceramics studio
- Artist studio spaces
- Communal public art areas
“I have taught art in the local school districts for over 15 years,” said artist Mary Olsen, Graphite’s owner and founder. “I have a longstanding passion for art and art education, and I look forward to sharing my knowledge and skills with teachers, students, and my community.”
Many of Graphite’s features will be open to the public, encouraging visitors to view the ongoing art programs and public gallery. In addition, Graphite will host open studio hours to provide space for artists to work on and create their own projects, with private locker storage.
Public art classes and workshops will be held at Graphite, with the goal of fostering art interest in the community. “People are often afraid of the term ‘artist,’ but we are hopeful to change this stigma,” Olsen said. “Graphite will be an open space for artists and creators of all skill and interest levels.”
In 2015, Olsen and Tracy Felix, an artist and educator who owns ARTspot, founded Art Start Northwest, a community non-profit dedicated to enhancing accessibility to the arts. With a focus on art education, Art Start Northwest has been donating art supplies to local schools for the past several years. The non-profit has future plans to utilize Graphite for activities such as school field trips for students, educational seminars for teachers, and more.
“Downtown Edmonds is slowly and carefully ramping up to accommodate shoppers and restaurant goers following a period of closures amid the coronavirus pandemic,” said Felix. “The upcoming construction of Graphite will be another positive for our community to focus on.”
To celebrate the ground-breaking of Graphite, Olsen and Felix are showcasing how artists bring creativity into everything they do – including a fundraiser. Many may have noticed a life-sized Holstein cow sculpture, named Greta, enjoying her time in the clover-covered Graphite site. Art Start Northwest will auction off acquisition of Greta, with all funds directly benefiting art education in the community.
If you would like to adopt Greta for a year, visit ARTspot at 408 Main St. or call ARTspot at 425-640-6408 to put in your bid. Bids will be taken until the end of July. In July of 2021, Art Start Northwest will reauction Greta to kick off its annual fundraiser.
The auction will give community members an opportunity to support the arts in Edmonds as Graphite develops, Felix said.