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)