Brace Point Pottery in ‘downtown Arbor Heights’ to become Rain City Clay

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

After 25 years in what was once “downtown Arbor Heights,” artist Loren Lukens is leaving.

But his Brace Point Pottery studio and gallery site at 4208 SW 100th will remain in an artist’s hands.

We found out about the transition plan from Deb Schwartzkopf, who announced this week that she will open Rain City Clay there next March.

We talked to Lukens last night while Brace Point Pottery was open for the September West Seattle Art Walk. He and wife Beth Kirchhoff are moving in February to central California, near where their daughter is a geology professor. He plans to set up a studio there once settled, but isn’t expecting to get back into the gallery business. He’s been in Seattle for 40 years – 25 of them in Arbor Heights.

He’s proud that the sale means the studio will remain just that, rather than be redeveloped like the former church next door (which was demolished for a stalled townhouse project).

Here’s where Deb Schwartzkopf and her Rain City Clay plan comes in. It’s meant as an addition to her current business, Rat City Studios, which she says is “a thriving community that supports ceramic artists of all levels” but after eight years has outgrown its capacity “and cannot accommodate the waitlist for independent study participants or classes in their current location.

“We would love to expand our reach to youth, golden-agers, and underserved communities in our immediate vicinity as we grow,” Schwartzkopf said in the announcement. And regarding taking over the Arbor Heights studio: “We couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity to build on the legacy of this artist community.”

To expand into her full vision – to “offer classes for all levels, skill-building workshops, a firing service for local potters, artist studios, and a specialty shop featuring local and national artists” – Schwartzkopf is crowdfunding. As also explained on her website, the Arbor Heights facility will need some maintenance and upgrades, so that’s part of what the contributions will cover. The GoFundMe page is here; you can also support her plan, she says, via taking an online clay class or buying her pottery.

Though the official handoff isn’t until March 1st, an exhibition is planned in January to introduce Rain City Clay at the Brace Point Pottery location. (And you’ll have chances to say goodbye to Lukens before that – the gallery continues to host events including a sale tomorrow of Cathy Woo’s work, and the Westside Artists tour later this month. (That tour, in fact, began as a collaboration between artists including Schwartzkopf and Lukens.)

(Deb Schwartzkopf photo by Matisse LB Photography)

10 Replies to "Brace Point Pottery in 'downtown Arbor Heights' to become Rain City Clay"

  • anonyme September 10, 2021 (12:14 pm)

    This is great news for the neighborhood!  A studio within walking distance will be fantastic.  Now if the hole next door could only be transformed into a small grocery/coffee shop, we’d be a step closer to having a real neighborhood with at least a couple of amenities…

  • ryanO September 10, 2021 (12:24 pm)

    what is happening with the development site next store? it’s been a hole for a while now.

  • helpermonkey September 10, 2021 (12:38 pm)

    such a relief to hear! I was so sad when I heard Loren was retiring, and I was also nervous the site would then be developed. Looking forward to Rain City Clay being a new neighbor! 

  • Kim September 10, 2021 (1:02 pm)

    My son has a small coffee house in L.A., and I have always said we need a place like his at the potter’s.

  • Alex September 10, 2021 (1:10 pm)

    You had me at “Goldenagers”!   

  • Dave September 10, 2021 (2:13 pm)

    If you haven’t been to Brace Point go see it before Loren goes.  His special events and gallery shows are excellent.  And he is wonderful to visit with.  I ended up leaving the neighborhood a bit ago, but will miss knowing he is there.   Deb Schwarzkopf will be a tremendous addition to the neighborhood though.  Come March be sure to go visit her new setup.   The very best to both Loren and Deb!

  • Chris September 10, 2021 (3:53 pm)

    That’s great news. I wonder if they will also sell clay? Would love a place nearby that sells clay for my students so I don’t have to drive the detour to Seattle pottery supply.

    • Sarah September 10, 2021 (10:40 pm)

      Second that! 

  • Kimbee September 10, 2021 (4:15 pm)

    Wishing Debbie much success as she expands her artist community! 

  • AH Neighbor September 10, 2021 (9:12 pm)

    Wow, an exciting move for Loren and Beth!  We will truly miss you both in studio and out in the neighborhood, but so glad you are moving closer to your accomplished daughter!  Looking forward to seeing what Deb has in mind for Rain City Clay in this amazing space – sending a warm welcome to Deb!

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