Alki Arts’ beach location to close after 3 ‘temporary’ years

(Alki Arts co-proprietors Tom Wyrick and Diane Venti, photographed on AA’s 2nd anniversary last year)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

After three years of brightening up the beach with art and music, gallery/event venue Alki Arts has been notified that its “temporary lease” will end September 30th.

That’s according to proprietors Diane Venti and Tom Wyrick, who took over the space at 2820 Alki SW in July 2010, after a pet shop closed with time left on its lease.

In those ensuing three years, not only have they shown and sold a wide variety of art, they also have hosted a wide range of events – ones they planned themselves, such as musical performers on days/nights both quiet and not (Art Walk, Pirates Landing, Summer Streets) and privately booked events (even weddings).

Via e-mail, Diane tells WSB, “We have HIRED (I don’t believe in free music) 90+ musicians, sponsored at least 40 donated events for schools, and local nonprofits, and made friends in this community for the rest of our lives. We have shown art for over 100 local ‘working artists’ and sold over 1/2 a million dollars of original art during a recession! Who knew!!!”

She also reflected:

“I feel a twinge of sadness and a bit of anticipated identity loss when contemplating my life as a non-business owner in West Seattle…but I feel only gratitude to all of the ‘powers that be’ that allowed us to inhabit the space in the first place at a fraction of the ‘real’ rent for so long. First, Susan Moss of All the Best Pet Care was our benefactress for 2 1/2 years, allowing us to sublet at 1/3 of what she was paying each month and then when that sublet ended, the Polls (building owners) graciously allowed us to remain through the summer as a kindness to our business and the beach community before embarking on their next project.

“I am mostly though grateful to the ‘neighbor friends’ as I have called them for 3+ years…the people who have supported us by purchasing local original art from us, or just being kind by dropping off off lunch or cookies, delivering coffee, waving as they walked dogs, sitting at the gallery while I picked kiddos up from school, talking with me, encouraging me, consoling me, inspiring me …

“I cannot count the ways that we were loved and supported during 3 years and 3 months of existence while I made a living while bringing my kids to work with me. Artists tutored Tony while he homeschooled the first year, Enzo hung out in the back room on the computer, Summer worked at the gallery until we opened the downtown space (also temporary) for her to manage. Roman learned about community through this adventure. My kids have been ‘imprinted on’ by Alki and West Seattle.

“I am really OK with the change as I kinda feel I need my nights and weekends back now that the older two are on their feet and the younger two are teens and needing my time. We will keep on with the Harbor Steps space as long as those landlords let us stay.”

So why is the Alki Arts lease being ended? Diane says, “The owners of the building are very committed to the project with Cassis restaurant and I believe that is what will go in our space.”

She’s referring to this – news that started circulating in January that Jef Fike, who formerly ran the well-regarded restaurant Cassis on Capitol Hill, would revive it at an unspecified location on Alki. We finally heard from him in April, at which time – as noted briefly here – he said he was still working on the plan and hoping to open by July 4th.

At the time the Cassis news originally broke, several WSB readers pointed out that Fike’s LinkedIn page listed 2820 Alki – the building that houses Alki Urban Market and Cactus as well as Alki Arts – as its future address. That listing is no longer visible online; we’re working to find out the current status of the restaurant project, whether it’s this address or another.

Meantime, one last musing from Diane:

“Who knew that a spur-of-the-moment brainstorm while looking for a job and passing by an empty storefront would lead to all this goodness over 3 years ago?”

Again, their lease doesn’t end until September 30th, so go see them at Alki all you want between now and then, and look for event announcements via the AA Facebook page. Their Harbor Steps location downtown is at 55 University (its FB page is here).

34 Replies to "Alki Arts' beach location to close after 3 'temporary' years"

  • sandy August 3, 2013 (10:56 am)

    Sorry to see this end–have always enjoyed stopping by, marveling at our local talent and chatting with you, Diane. Best to you for whatever is next. Hope to see you often at ArtsWest!

  • Clay Eals August 3, 2013 (11:15 am)

    Diane and Tom have been amazing friends of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society, and the departure of Alki Arts will be huge loss professionally and personally. We also are honored that Diane’s gallery will host a 9/11 commemorative event at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013, during which all of the luminary bags with messages of sadness and hope that were written on Sept. 11, 2001, and left on Alki Beach that day will be on display. It will be free to the public, with several speakers, and a great way to see Alki Arts in action one more time. More details to come. Our heartfelt thanks to Diane and Tom for all they have done to bring people together. They are the embodiment of what I like to call The Original Social Media: Face to Face.

  • Ryan Caple August 3, 2013 (11:44 am)

    Diane, everyone here at Cactus will miss you!! Make sure I make you a few more Rose Angel margaritas before you go.

  • Amanda Gilbert August 3, 2013 (11:49 am)

    Diane – you will be sorely missed. Alki Arts is one of my very favorite places to roll through and take visitors to enjoy all the local art. Tough to imagine the community without you!

  • james August 3, 2013 (12:26 pm)

    Thanks for everything you brought to the beach. You’ll be missed!

  • Mary August 3, 2013 (12:28 pm)

    We are sorry to see you go! I have always enjoyed the local art in your gallery, and you are so welcoming to our kids too–showing them the differences in styles of painting and encouraging them to look closely at the art. Alki Arts was such a welcome part of West Seattle!

  • susan moss August 3, 2013 (12:58 pm)

    Your gallery has brought beauty and light and neighborliness to the Alki promenade. Your caring and concern for the community shines through everything that you do. And you give good parties!

    So glad I got to know you and Tom! We will be friends forever.

  • Luckie August 3, 2013 (1:02 pm)

    Nooo! Alki Arts’s role as an art/event space has been such a benefit to our community. I don’t want it to go!

  • rg August 3, 2013 (1:13 pm)

    “Who knew that a spur-of-the-moment brainstorm while looking for a job and passing by an empty storefront would lead to all this goodness over 3 years ago?” = priceless. Thanx for the show!

  • raresthare August 3, 2013 (1:32 pm)

    We will so miss you! A great space with some of Seattle’s best local artists. What about another space in WS??

  • Cynthia August 3, 2013 (1:42 pm)

    I am going to miss my trips to drop off art but I am looking forward to seeing more of you at the Harbor Steps location!

  • Alkigirl August 3, 2013 (3:32 pm)

    Beauitful art, and beauitful people. Thanks for everything Diane. You will be missed :)

  • Doug Latta August 3, 2013 (3:47 pm)

    I can’t imagine Alki without Alki Arts. It was the main reason I started going back down there. Thank you for serving the community.

  • Eugene August 3, 2013 (4:39 pm)

    I will be sad to see this location closing. We already have plenty of restaurants and very little else… certainly not enough art.

  • Richard August 3, 2013 (6:16 pm)

    Diane Venti, her husband Tom, and their kids are all ” good people “, with a ton of heart too.
    As a life long resident of Alki, change has always worked its way to the area, some better than others, and Diane’s gallery was indeed for the best, and what she affords all of us. A space, filled with color, imagination, conversation, connection, admiration, affection, and appreciation just to mention a few of the ways that Diane, her space and her heart have touched us all. Rather than think of losing what Diane brought to the beach, I will venture to guess and say that it will not be long before she finds a new place down here to continue her gift of giving to us, or possibly be asked to stay or come back. You can’t put a price on the benefit that a presence like that of Diane’s gives to its neighbors. Diane Venti, her family, and her art gallery are, were, and will possibly continue to be one of the brightest spots to ever shine on Alki Beach.
    Diane, you are ” good people ” thanks for being a presence in our lives, and hopefully will continue to be, in some artful fashion :)

  • Cathy Woo August 3, 2013 (8:25 pm)

    Love you guys! Thanks for everything. xoxo

  • chinook August 3, 2013 (11:29 pm)

    Very sorry to hear this. We first wandered in one chilly New Year’s Eve while taking an end of year walk around Alki. Ended up dropping in many more times and finding a wonderful painting that we brought home and love every single day. There’s always something new and cool in the store to see. Hope you guys land somewhere else in West Seattle soon – please keep us posted!

  • Robin Stacy Richardson August 4, 2013 (12:23 am)

    It’s painful to think that Alki Arts is closing…..I keep hoping that Diane will resurface in a new art gallery somewhere else in Seattle. She was absolutely the BEST gallery person I have ever met. She is a warm, caring, honest person. I wish you all the best, Diane. Thank you for representing my art.

  • Chaucer Wells August 4, 2013 (9:12 am)

    Alki Arts was one of the first places that I stopped by when I moved to West Seattle. I’ve always enjoyed both their exhibits and their patronage of local musicians. They will be greatly missed.

  • AlkiGrl August 4, 2013 (9:29 am)

    I’m grateful for the generosity of the property owners that allowed Alki Arts to locate on the beach affordably, and am sad to see it go. It was really nice to have some variety here beyond just restaurants.

  • Karen Dedrickson August 4, 2013 (2:06 pm)

    Thank you Diane and Tom for giving the community and artists a place for art and music. Always a playful and creative venue for all. I bless you on any and all your next adventures. You have made a powerful difference for us all.

  • Brant Abinosa August 5, 2013 (6:47 am)

    This gallery and its owners (Tom & Diane) will always hold a special place in my heart. As a beginning artist, I was given a rare opportunity to make a name for myself after a mere 6 months of painting. I believe it was the success of that opportunity that led me to my choice to become a fine art major at an esteemed art school. I want to personally thank Tom & Diane for giving me a chance to pursue my life-long dream. The beach community and all of the artists & musicians will be suffering a great loss with the ending of this lease, but one thing they can never take from us is the amazing friendships we’ve attained in the 3 years that the gallery was in business. Tom & Diane, as you’ve become family to me, I wish you the best of success in the future and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you’ve done for me.

  • Raye Rapp August 5, 2013 (9:55 am)

    I am so thankful that Tom and Diane had this opportunity for Alki Arts and that I happened into the gallery to see one of my favorite artists, Patri O’Connor! I ended up loving all of the marvelous art and some of my walls are home to wonderful pieces I purchased there. Diane made the gallery so welcoming – to all who entered. Thanks so much for being who you are and for making great local art available to folks like me. I wish you success in whatever you choose to do now. I am sure it will be a grand adventure!!

  • Jackie and Jarett August 5, 2013 (7:27 pm)

    We are so sad to see you leave Alki. We love having you in the neighborhood. Your generous spirit and sense of community added so much to life on Alki. Best to you always! You will really be missed!

  • Robin Weiss August 5, 2013 (9:59 pm)

    Diane and Tom, Thank you so much for the great opportunity you gave me at Alki Arts to share my art …and for all the paintings you sold! It was always a blast to come over and visit and to feel a part of the Alki family. I know you will continue to spread love and joy in all your future endeavors! Love you guys!

  • Lynn Hall August 6, 2013 (7:18 am)

    OH NO! I will so miss stopping to see you and the art. You and your art have been a magnet for me and have added immeasurably to my pleasure in moving to Alki. Best of luck at your Harbor Steps location and in your future plans.


  • Sassy August 6, 2013 (9:56 am)

    This is sad news indeed!
    Will your shop be reincarnated somewhere else in WS? Hope so. Best wishes to you both.

  • Donna August 7, 2013 (12:39 pm)

    Oh my, I was so surprised by the news! I have loved stopping in to visit and peruse what I might want to purchase next. You and Tom will definitely be missed. I wish you the best in your future endeavors.

  • Albert August 7, 2013 (4:32 pm)

    what a loss. wish there were a way for the city arts commission to give a grant to keep you in.
    being able to see local artists on display at the beach is such a huge visitor draw. another restaurant not so thrilling. just adds to traffic and congestion. what a joy to be able to have an art gallery on Alki. so sad. what a loss. guess we don’t know what we got till it’s gone.

  • Vince August 7, 2013 (11:55 pm)

    I’ll miss the gallery!!!!!!!!!!! :'(

  • I'mcoveredinbees August 8, 2013 (1:50 am)

    I’m really going to miss this place. What a gem.

  • Ray West August 9, 2013 (10:04 am)

    This is the type of business West Seattle and particularly Alki needs, rather than yet another restaurant. Alki has become just one long bar scene for the twenty-somethings with little variety of retail shops and cultural activities. Can’t they relocate to a more affordable space (if there is such a thing as “affordable” any more) in the area? This is a HUGE loss to our community.

  • Suzanne Potts August 10, 2013 (5:54 am)

    Not only do I love Alki Arts, I love Diane and Tom! Can’t imagine it not being there. Sad :-(

  • Diane Venti August 11, 2013 (5:26 pm)

    All of these kind comments by our neighbors and customers mean so much to us. We are overwhelmed by these messages. Thank you for the great article & send off W.S. Blog.

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