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Celebrating 10 years of art and community in Pioneer Square

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of ’57 Biscayne, the artist studios in The Good Arts Building, we asked Biscaynitos (and some former Biscaynitos) to tell us what makes this place so special. Here’s what they had to say. Also be sure to check out the “before and after” gallery at the bottom of the page.

Studio view of Lindsay Peyton

Lindsey Peyton, artist, studio 211

I think of the studio as my own little treehouse or fort. I look forward to being there. I clearly remember the first time I met Jane and toured the space. I was prepared to be disappointed and not get in. I’m beyond glad that I was wrong. I truly value the other artists in the building, who are inspiring and encouraging. It’s a wonderful piece of solace in the heart of Seattle.

See more at Lindsay Petyon Art

M&M Jewelry Studio, studio 204

Both of us had worked years for various jewelry establishments and had frequent discussions of starting a jewelry business of our own. When we were accepted into the studios at ‘57 Biscayne it gave us the incentive we needed to finally quit our full time jobs and give it a go.

We were excited and terrified at the same time. But shortly after moving our home basement jewelry studio into the new space in Pioneer Square we began to grow. Not only did we have the capacity to equip our operation with more important tools of the trade but we had a space to invite people in for custom jewelry and jewelry repair consultations.

Three years in and we’ve developed a wonderful client base in the Seattle community and we are ever so grateful for the foothold and support the ‘57 Biscayne Studios have provided. 

See more at Mnmjewelrystudio.com

Ray Monde, artist, studio 301

This place is a sanctuary for me in so many ways. During the pandemic last year, it was a refuge in a dangerous world. The woody smell of the stairs as I came into the building provided reassurance that everything was going to be okay. This work created at 110 Cherry Street was a pivotal moment for me where I moved from flat art to sculpture. It’s a finalist in a coveted sculpture award in Australia – an important artistic milestone for me. And none of this would have happened without the support of the studios here.

See more at raymonde.com.au

Barbara Shaiman, ceramic artist and curator, studio 306

I was panicked when the group studio I had been working at for several years, had to close due to Covid in the spring of 2020. Without a car and unwilling to use transit during the pandemic I would need to find a studio walking distance from my Belltown condo, not an easy task as there are very few studios still existing in the downtown area. I was ecstatic when an opening came up at ’57 Biscayne, a building I was familiar with through having visited many times for openings and other events.

’57 Biscayne has been perfect for me. What a joy to have my own space to work in and yet to have numerous creative people around for inspiration and mutual problem solving. Due to the pandemic people visit less than they might in normal times, but I look forward to a post pandemic future when there will be more studio visits, open houses, and other community events.

See more at barbarashaimanart.com

Jane Richlovsky, painter, printmaker, studio 207

In 2001 I began subletting studio space in the Western Building from Drake Deknatel. There, from him and other mentors in that building, I learned how to be an artist: how to keep showing up for your work, to always put it first, and how to navigate the arcane practicalities of the business. When Drake died in 2005, I lost a mentor and friend, but I unexpectedly gained a business that would become something of a mission. The landlord asked me to assume the lease and management of the floor. Within a few years I had three leases and twenty subtenants, many of them young artists just starting out. It then became clear that there was a pair of outsized mentor shoes for me to step into, and that perhaps here was a way to start resolving the competing claims of painting, being a business-person, and my responsibility to the community.

In late 2011, when the Western Building was condemned, I was required to make some fast decisions. I decided then that my ties to the artists, business people, and residents of Pioneer Square made staying in the neighborhood a priority. I could have simply moved myself somewhere new and ditched the landlord business, but I saw a rare opportunity to create something new, a place that could nurture my own work, and provide for myself and other artists not only an inspiring and practical space to make art, but also somewhere to exchange ideas and to succeed together.

Ten years later, I’m really glad I made that decision. I’m still in my beautiful studio making art, with a dynamic and nurturing community, in a stable building. During the early months of the pandemic, I was able to come to this beautiful studio and work without interruption, going down some creative rabbit holes that I hadn’t take the time for previously—installation, screenprinting, pattern, geometric abstraction. Right nearby, safely in separate rooms, were others navigating the same tumultuous times and making their own art.

We’re still here.

See more at janerichlovsky.com

TEDx Talk: How Jane rewrote the the Artist versus Gentrification story

Savina Mason, artist, Studio 203

Welcome to my amazing studio of 10 years! The light is just right, even at the dark tail of the year, the hanging space is plentiful, and inspiring quirky people are a short traipse down the hall. It’s been a pleasure working here, and darn useful too, since I never saw a material or technique that wasn’t sexy to me. I’ve learned loads from my fellow Biscaynitos, and my work is stronger for it. 

See more at savinamason.com

Ann Marie Schneider, artist, studio 308

My days at ‘57 Biscayne are infused with sunlight from my third floor window and creative energy that all the talented individuals bring to this building.  I’ve made a short video to tell you about how I found the Good Arts Building and to show you my little studio and my latest work. 

See more at annmarieschneider.com

Krisna Schumann, painter and printmaker (Biscaynito 2013-2019)

’57 Biscayne is a place that fosters young people aspiring to be professionals in the arts. In my small but airy studio at the end of the hall, I discovered myself as a painter/printmaker. I spent my days cranking out monotypes, painting objects from observation, drawing, and resolving my questions over time. When I wandered the halls in search of company, I would find it in the amazing working artists just taking their lunch breaks. Perhaps they needed someone to look at their work, or maybe I needed their eyes on mine, but the readily available studio critic was an invaluable resource in those days.  While I have moved on from my first studio-as-home, I still make my work with that space and those artists in mind.

Elizabeth Arzani, artist (Biscaynito 2014-2015)

I came to find the ’57 Biscayne artist community through invitation. After a cross country move to Seattle and being studio-less for a year, I eagerly accepted. My rented space was formerly a dark room that adjoined another artist’s studio. At first glance you might have expected it to be like stepping into a small closet, but when you peered around the corner, it stretched out like a long hallway – a type of unexpected magic trick that revealed a secret hiding nook. Throughout my time here, my experience was met with excitement for uncovering new findings.

It was in this quirky space where my work began expanding from painting and drawing to a new kind of practice rooted in collecting and assembling. I was constructing compositions by arranging different types of materials, creating paintings without paint. Here, I was able to experiment with my newly acquired selection of vintage and retro tin packaging, shifting my focus to hybrids of assemblage and sculpture to installation and site-specific collaborations. ’57 Biscayne is the special place where I was welcomed to participate in an artist community and where my studio mate became my best friend. Even though I just occupied physical space at ’57 Biscayne Artist Studios for one year, I still feel the generative possibilities from that time benefiting my art practice today.

Sue Springer, sculptor, studio 313

After searching for a studio and just about giving up, I found the perfect (for me) space and a great community of artists at ’57 Biscayne. This space allows exploration and discovery as I roll, texture, attach and carve in clay for my (mostly) figurative ceramic sculptures. I’m extremely grateful for this building and community. Happy 10th Anniversary!

See more at Sue Springer

The commission that changed everything for Eric Eschenbach

Eric Eschenbach, artist, studio 310

I was given this commission shortly after moving into my studio at ’57 Biscayne. Having the studio not only provided me with a great space to paint the 5 ft. x 8 ft. painting but also gave me a bit of credibility that I would not have had if I was still working out of my garage.  In addition the studio has provided me a space to do encaustics during the colder months that I would not have had before.

See more at ericeschenbach.com

Lin-Lin Mollitor, artist, studio 309

I am grateful and feel so fortunate to have a fantastic space to work in with so many talented and friendly artists in the building.  I moved to Seattle in 2018 from the east coast by way of Bath, England where I earned an MA in Fine Arts in Fall 2017.  Though I started out as a representational painter at Bath Spa University, I finished as an installation artist after studying contemporary art and playing with new ideas and materials.  Being an artist at ’57 Biscayne Artist Studios allowed me to have the space and opportunity to continue my art practice and experiment with ideas which I could not have done in my home.

The pivotal moment for me here was when our proprietrix, artist Jane Richlovsky, in 2018 asked me to install two of my installations in the common areas – one in the open stairwell, and the second under the skylight of the 3rd floor hallway. 

I have submitted photographs of these installations for various artist calls.  In 2019 I was selected to design an installation that I would create with festival-goers at the Bumbershoot Festival later that year at the Seattle Center, and which would be displayed for a week at the Seattle Armory. 

That project was a success and I was told that I was selected based on the photo of my origami installation in the open stairwell at ’57 Biscayne Artist Studios.  I have had several opportunities to create public art since then including exhibiting in a Shunpike storefront window last year and working with Seattle Office of Arts and Culture. 

My studio is my playground, a wonderful place to experiment and to try out ideas.  The building is in the perfect location in historic Pioneer Square where it’s easy to grab a snack or walk to a gallery.  I do miss the pre-COVID days when we gathered weekly in Jane’s studio for figure drawing and our fantastic open houses where the public was invited to visit our building and studios.  I know those days will be back again and I can’t wait.

See more at linlinmao.com

Cynthia Wessling and Tara Kraft, artists, studio 302

A conversation between studiomates, Cynthia Wessling and Tara Kraft (of 302, with the post-it flower in the window) 

Tara: So, the studio and what it means to us.  

Cynthia: Okay.  

Tara: Well, I think the first thing to set some context is that while we share a studio, you are usually there during the day, while I am there at night. It’s rare we get to overlap.  

Cynthia: Whenever we overlap in the studio, I’m super excited that we are there together doing art! Like, just over my shoulder. In our little headphone worlds. 

Tara: Right! Rare and awesome times. So we each have our own space and time, while also having support from each other. And that’s kind of a microcosm of what the building feels like. Our own space but still connected. 

Cynthia: The studio means two main things to me: it is an anchor for my art practice that is a preserved space just for art. As I navigate other life obligations, it’s a unique, dedicated space. Walking through the door, I instantly feel myself shedding other cares and concerns and picking up the art mindset. Which is any combination of: curious, delighted, angst-ridden, frustrated, overjoyed, peaceful, chaotic–all of the things that go into making art.  

The second thing is a shared, profound connection with my awesome studiomate, whom I rely on, respect, and treasure. 

Tara: It’s more than just the separate space though. I could set up a separate room at home or a backyard she-shed or something, and it wouldn’t give me the connection to the community I have here. To you, whom I value as a friend and colleague, to the other artists in the building (even just seeing their art or the notes on the whiteboard), and to the community around us in pioneer square. I love that our window opens and I can hear what is going on outside all night. 

Once I was painting on the 4th of July and there was a whole-ass cookout going on on the front steps of the building across the street. That was great. 

Cynthia: I love to be downtown, in Pioneer Square and all of the street sounds that float up through the window–protests, sirens, shouting, laughing, conversations. 

Tara: Last weekend a marching band came down the street. It wasn’t even a sounders game.  

Cynthia: I love that we are repurposing things from former corporate life, like the place where they put the projector equipment, and instead we’re using it for hanging and drying art stuff.  

Tara: It’s a nice symmetry that we are repurposing an engineering meeting space since we originally met working in engineering together.  

Cynthia: Yes! 

Tara: Should we talk about the post-its? Do you remember how it started?  

Cynthia: The notes are a great way to acknowledge stuff: like, “hey that looks cool since the last time I saw it,” or “I appreciate you,” or “look, I can make art with different color post-its” 

Tara: So lately I’ve been having trouble painting because either a) this current painting is hard b) the current stage of the painting is hard c) the new way I’ve arranged my side of the studio is cursed.  

Cynthia: I shall create a post-it note for you and see if it helps your new art. 

Tara: Please bless the new arrangement with post-its.  

See more at tarakraftart.com

See more at cynthiawessling.com

what we make it (Cal Anderson Park Gatehouse, south view) by Clare Johnson

Clare Johnson, artist, studio 212

I came to this studio two years ago when the building I’d been in for almost a decade sold, displacing dozens of artists.

I was terrified I’d never find another space that worked for me. At that time I also feared that public art, something I’d aspired to my whole life, might never happen for me. Two years later, I’m so grateful to have been welcomed into the community here, in this great space that miraculously I can both afford and walk to each day… and where I’ve also now created three(!!?!) public art projects, with a fourth on the way!

This picture shows my biggest one so far—14 temporary window pieces in Cal Anderson Park, based on interviews with four different people sharing their experiences around HIV/AIDS and family.

See more at clarejohnson.com

ScharrerAD, design solutions, studio 303

A special time for us in the studio was when we were designing and building our installation for the Seattle Design Festival in 2019 – our piece was called “Big Blue” and it represented the different ways our earth home is in, and out of, balance.

We designed and built most of the piece right in our studio, quite a feat given that most teams who do installations have contractors they collaborate with, or have otherwise large spaces for building and production. The final piece was in South Lake Union Park September 8-9, 2019, and it was super successful-we had a ton of great interaction with festival-goers!

See more at scharrerad.com

Grego Rachko, artist, studio 213

This painting had been a long time coming. Racial inequality. Rising fascism. Environmental disaster. Covid disease and death of my mother. Life as we knew it is gone. Massive unemployment. Mass denial. The center cannot hold. And still I come to the studio and do my work. Even during the shutdown, the space was here!

See more at gregorachko

Liz Ewings, artist, studio 206

’57 Biscayne is my space to paint plankton! I called dibs on my studio here when I first started painting plankton. I had come to life drawing sessions and Jane’s studio for several years, but hadn’t really figured out what motivated me as an artist. Coming to the studio every day and chatting with other artists helped me find a focus for my work. Now, I’m expanding outward to include the whole ocean.

See more at www.lizewings.com

Hen Chung, Rad and Hungry (Biscaynito 2016-2018)