Stepping up

Who’s got two thumbs and just got elected new chair of the Renton Municipal Arts Commission? This girl!

The opportunity to join the Renton Municipal Arts Commission came to me within a year of my gallery, happy delusions, closure in 2013. Many friends, artists, and community members had tried for years to get me to join. I had been skeptical. I had many friends tell many stories about their time serving on the Arts Commission. I watch many of these high functioning individuals get burned out. I hid behind my gallery, saying I didn’t have the time. And I didn’t.

Licking my wounds

After my gallery closed I took some time to re-evaluate my life. I took time cleaning up any loose ends left over from the closure. I went to work for someone else. I started to feel like all my work in the community had lost its place. I gave my ego time to settle down, and my mind time to grieve the loss of closing. Then I was ready to get back to the things that mattered to me.

Art & Community

Let’s face it, you don’t open a maker space in your hometown unless you feel on some level the importance of these two things. It takes me 15 minutes to be in downtown Seattle where there are far more people. Far more foot-traffic. Far more opportunities for working with an established arts community. And as I saw it, far more opportunities to get lost in the crowd. 

Bringing Art to Renton

It would be incorrect if I said these opportunities weren’t available in Renton. Any local community has some sort of art happening all the time. I just wasn’t in that circle, and frankly, I felt most of what I was seeing in the arts was directed towards an older demographic. I just couldn’t find my niche. So I opened my gallery, happy delusions. In its five years, it supported over 500 local artists. It was very rewarding seeing all these artists and makers step forward to show their work in my gallery. 

One of the unexpected beauties of this was that I became a voice for this demographic missed in my community art scene. Artists and community members rallied around me to speak for them. 

Rising up as an arts advocate 

I started getting involved with the city of Renton. Started going to the public meeting, and started engaging with the City council members. Stepping up my game by proposing ideas to the Renton Municipal Arts Commission. Slowly I started to understand more about the ins and out of getting projects funded. I started to see issues that I wanted to be involved in. Issues that would help the community I love become more art-centered. And how do you do that? Well, you get involved.

Joining the Arts Commission was a no brainer.

At this point, a seat had opened up and I took the interview. I was happy to see so many familiar faces on the board. Like any committee I’ve ever had the pleasure of serving on, it takes a minute to get up to speed. 

We had a lot of work to do.

I feel very fortunate to have joined when I did. I felt a wave of change happening before my eyes as we worked together to make some positive lasting Chance. We really took a look at where our focus was and formed a vision to get the City excited about art. I found myself once more, meeting with council members. Driving around to local arts agency meetings. Signing up for a Seattle Public Art Bootcamp. Connecting with members of 4Culture, and SoCoCulture. We started working on installing small art projects throughout Renton. We were working with a commission of like-minded individuals. Commissioner who Renton is very lucky to have. All of our hard work began to pay off.

Beautification Project
Just a way to make a construction site pretty.

Show me the money!

In the last 3 years, the Renton Municipal Arts Commission has seen our budget more than triple! The work was showing. The City, the mayor, the council, we’re all getting involved. The movement has been incredible. The commission has been able to continue to participate and coordinate small art projects. But now we are no longer limited to that. Now we have a budget to afford to bring in bigger more extraordinary pieces of public art. We had funds to help make The City of Renton a leader for arts in our area. 

Hip Hip Hooray!

It feels wonderful to be working with such an incredible group of art leaders. It feels like progress at every meeting I attend. It feels like we are unstoppable. So now I step into this role as Chair. I come into it behind a long list of leaders who have done so much to get us to where we are today. I come into it with a renewed commitment to the commission. A renewed commitment to my community. I renewed commitment to show up for the arts community.

Thank you

Thank you to everyone who has helped me along my path. Thank you to the leaders who’ve helped show me the courage to stand up for what is right. Thank you to my mentors who’ve guided me to use my voice. Thank you to the Renton arts community for welcoming me in. Thank you to the city of Renton for listening. Thank you to our mayor and council members who took the time to come to meet with me. 

I will do my best to represent Renton well within the arts.

So what are we doing?

A month is already behind us here in 2020, and the Renton Municipal Arts Commission is off to the races. We have been working on bringing Workshops to the public. The first one will be held this coming April and will be centered around helping individuals apply for our grants. After that, we will be planning two more for the year. One around the film industry, and one around curating a show. We are also tying up some unfinished projects from last year, including art in the new sunset neighborhood park and the Renton Loop sculpture that will be installed at 2nd and main. We are also excited about two projects that are starting in neighborhoods that currently have no art. One in the Benson Hill neighborhood, and one on our historic Renton Hill. 

I am committed to keeping my followers up to date on all things art in our community here on my blog. 

Stay tuned for more exciting happening throughout the year.

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