Contributor close-up: Rachel Gardner, Art Beat columnist

Rachel Gardner (Photo by Edmonds Photographer Angie Phelps Langford)

Publisher’s note: After 11 years in business, it’s time our readers got better acquainted with the people behind the names you see in our publications. Here. learn more about Art Beat columnist Rachel Gardner.

It’s hard to pinpoint one interest that really drives me — I think I have always approached life as if it was a cacophonous symphony of adventures. I have lived a bit of a Swiss army knife of experiences, from living out my ski bum dreams in New Zealand to racing sailboats in Northwest storms, or writing original music and starting a band to perform at local venues.

I was born in a music store (yes really) in Port Townsend and raised by musician parents. From a young age I learned to be comfortable in any venue, from jazz clubs to radio shows to outdoor music festivals. My parents both instilled a love of nature, music and art. My mom taught me at a young age how to stop and listen to busking musicians and to always drop a dollar in their music cases ,and my dad taught me how there are no mistakes in jazz, just like in creating any art. An appreciation for seeing firsthand the time and sacrifices artists make for their craft has given me the drive to support local artists however I can.

I attended college at the University of Washington and graduated with a degree in botany, focusing my senior work on botanical illustration. My love of flowers and drawing, and my desire to have both winters and summers off to play, led to this decision more so than any forethought of how this would lead to a career. I continued on with my master’s degree in environmental studies and doing field work as an outdoor guide working with women. We used a combination of wilderness and art therapy with participants, introducing them to the wonders of the outdoors. During these years I supplemented my work with a variety of jobs including bicycle mechanic, tour boat deckhand, ski instructor and bartender.

When I became a mother, I was driven to be more connected to the community around me and knew that one of the most important decisions to make was where to raise our kids. Edmonds was at the top of the list because of its strong standing regarding arts in the community, the variety of live music and galleries in town, the strong education for our children, and the proximity to both sailing and snow activities. Before moving to Edmonds, I had seen my father perform at the Edmonds Center for the Arts and had already started falling in love with the area and the art scene.

The Band LeLe playing a gig at the Gravity Bar. Musicians left to right: Elizabeth Murray, Rebecca Lynn Pomp and Rachel Gardner

The Band LeLe playing a gig at the Gravity Bar. Musicians left to right: Elizabeth Murray, Rebecca Lynn Pomp and Rachel Gardner

Most recently, my focus has been on music. A couple of years ago I met two other local musicians in the Edmonds Moms Facebook group (honestly, you can find pretty much everything there) and we created the Band LeLe  (check us out here!) What started as a small hobby became something more serious fairly quickly, with bookings beyond Edmonds, playing at venues in Seattle and Everett and booking outdoor music festivals. All of this was starting to gain significant momentum when COVID-19 hit, and venues could no longer allow live music. I am lucky that I have continued to do other work during this time, but I have so much compassion for the artists and musicians who have been impacted by the shutdown and try to use my voice and means to support those who have been affected. For my band, we have continued to make music by practicing outside with distance and masks and have used this time to write a lot of music. I am excited to play live once again and to see people enjoying live music again.

As an Edmonds resident, I am proud of our community and the way artists of all kinds are supported. I came across the Art Beat writer opening almost a year ago and reached out to Teresa with enthusiasm and a willingness to jump right in, tapping into my years of writing for grad school and my interest to support the local art scene. I love writing the weekly Art Beat and finding ways to highlight artists or events that others might not have heard of before, as well as supporting the venues that are well-known in our area. I am always open to meeting fellow artists and look forward to sharing ideas for ways to enjoy every type of artistic expression available to our community. If anyone has an artist or event to share please email me, I always have time for art!

— By Rachel Gardner

One Reply to “Contributor close-up: Rachel Gardner, Art Beat columnist”

  1. I feel super-lucky to be Rachel’s “back fence” neighbor, and I really felt like we really hit the jackpot this summer when The Band LeLe had their socially distanced practices on Rachel’s back deck! I can’t wait to see them perform live once Covid is over… although the private outdoor concerts are pretty sweet!

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