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Unleashing The Power of Art

Community institution the Kirkland Arts Center continues to provide engaging art experiences for all.

Article by Bree O'Brien

Photography by Courtesy of Kirkland Arts Center

Originally published in Kirkland Lifestyle

Kirkland Lifestyle connected with Lauren Lyddon, the Director of Marketing & Communications for the Kirkland Arts Center, to learn more about this local jewel. Occupying the historic Peter Kirk Building (built 1890-92), the KAC’s mission is to unleash the power of art to ignite individual growth and self-expression, build community spirit, and cultivate cultural vibrancy.

KL: Can you tell me a little about the history of the KAC?

Kirkland Arts Center has been serving the Kirkland since 1962, previously as the Creative Arts League. Nearly sixty years ago, a group of artists interested in providing more opportunities in the arts locally purchased the Peter Kirk Building and transformed it into an exhibition gallery, community art studios, and classrooms! We've maintained that sense of community and connection while innovating in our offerings. Over the past two years, we've offered virtual classes for the first time, and January of 2022 saw the launch of our new teen program. 

KL: Who uses the KAC and for what? 

Artists and those who would like to become artists! We welcome people of all ages from throughout the Seattle area to take classes in subjects ranging from ceramics to art history. For those not ready to commit to a quarter length class – or those who can't get enough! – we also offer life drawing sessions on a weekly basis, with live models. Visitors can also drop by the gallery, which is free to the public and features more than six contemporary art exhibitions each year. 

KL: How did the KAC survive the pandemic? 

Truthfully, we survived the pandemic thanks to the resilience of this community, our volunteers, donors, and staff. The team immediately pivoted to online classes – a huge shift for an organization like ours which has always been grounded in being on-location in our building – and increased our pursuit of grants and donor funding. We're really grateful for everyone who worked so hard to ensure we're still here. We're also elated to have been able to bring unconventional arts programming to the community in all phases of the pandemic. These offerings included an all-digital exhibition, a resource hub for folks to engage in arts experiences at home, and "Art for the Helpers," a project where we made arts classes available to first responders and frontline workers at no charge. 

KL: What's something that local residents may not know about the KAC?

That there's truly a place for you here. Whether you're an experienced artist, or haven't picked up a drawing instrument since you were a kid, there's a spot for you. The teachers are incredible, the options are nearly endless, and you might be surprised at what a difference a regular art practice makes for you. 

KL: What can we look forward to at the KAC?

Just last month we launched our teen program (KirklandArtsCenter.org/Teen) and there's still time for young people to get plugged in this winter! This program offers teens a broad range of ways to engage, ranging from Teen Open Studios (free to all, with supplies provided) to series of classes taught by experts to help high schoolers complete portfolios for further education or opportunities in the arts. 
 

People of all ages should check out Spring quarter classes (KirklandArtsCenter.org) and try something new, or build on their skills in ceramics, painting, drawing, printmaking, or art history. 

Drop by our gallery any time before February 12th to view our current exhibition, Great Mysterious Heart by Megan Prince. Visit our website for details on this and the next exhibition this Spring.

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