Tag Archives: arts

Open letter: The future of ROCKiT space

Photo by Jason.
by Betty Jean Williamson, Beacon Hill Music

As many of you may know, ROCKiT space, our community space for music and art, has been operating at a deficit for some time. A recent family emergency has pushed director Jessie McKenna to the breaking point; she simply can not continue to volunteer six days a week to keep ROCKiT space open, and continue to lose money on top of it.

A number of folks have stepped forward to volunteer during the month of December to keep the doors open while Jessie is not available. The lease ends January 23, 2011. The property is listed for lease on craigslist. The landlord is willing to consider working with the community to keep ROCKiT space (or something like it) in place, even if that means a co-op of a number of tenants. Contact me at bjwlmp@msn.com if you are willing to commit financial support or want to volunteer during December.

ROCKiT space supporters will meet on Sunday, December 5, at 10:00 am at ROCKiT space, 3315 Beacon Avenue South. Please join us for more info and planning. Bring your ideas and your calendars!

Two ROCKiT events have sufficient support to continue either on site or re-located to other Beacon Hill locations:

  • Open Mic: Beacon Hill Music will take over facilitating the event. We will continue on the first and third Fridays in December at ROCKiT space. I am currently negotiating with the Garden Club for use of their Headquarters house; other options for re-location are Jefferson Community Center or local restaurants.
  • Tots Jam: Suzanne Sumi is committed to keeping the music happening for the little ones every Wednesday morning from 9:00 to 10:00 am at ROCKiT for the next four weeks. She will discuss the situation with the parents and let me know what level of support they can muster. We feel the most likely relocation site is El Centro, if they have space available in that time frame.

We also agree that, what ever happens, we want to help with expenses at ROCKiT so that Jessie and Marty are not left holding the tab for the whole neighborhood. To that end we will seek funding sources and partners to develop a larger co-operative network to manage and support ROCKiT ongoing; if that support is lacking, we will donate these proceeds to ROCKiT to cover closing costs and hopefully keep these generous folks out of debt.

To that end we propose a few benefit events:

  • Open Mics will have a $5 suggested donation on December 4 and 18.
  • Robert Hinrix is working on a benefit concert at ROCKiT space, TBA in late December.
  • Rebecca Smithers will ask the Franklin High School Jazz Band to consider a joint fundraiser— they play at ROCKiT space, TBA. We charge admission and proceeds are split between ROCKiT and the Jazz Band.

Other suggestions for the space have included:

  • Shared office space for local non-profits.
  • A co-operative natural food store/coffee house/music venue or any part(s) of that.
  • I will be coordinating any volunteers who want to come in and open ROCKiT space for community use or do any cleaning, maintenance or organizing to stay or move ROCKiT out as the case may be.

Please send me any details of how and when you want to help.

Please share this letter with folks you know care about ROCKiT space and might want to help.

Thanks to all,
Betty Jean

PLOP! brings literary and musical artists to Beacon Hill

Cellist Emily Ann Peterson. Photo courtesy of emilyannpeterson.com.
The PLOP! Cabaret performance series is returning on Saturday, April 17. Literary and music artists will perform in an intimate house setting somewhere on Beacon Hill.

This month’s show features cellist Emily Ann Peterson; medical memoirists Audrey Young, M.D. and Emily R. Transue, M.D.; and young adult fiction writer Alexa Martin. Admission is $5-15. Doors open at 8:00, and the event begins at 8:30. RSVP is required; send your RSVP to josie.elizabeth.davis@gmail.com. See also the event’s Facebook page.

A difficult road still ahead for Art’s on Beacon Hill

A jukebox waits for customers in the coffee shop at Art's on Beacon Hill. Photo by Wendi.
Michael Perrone sent us an email about the status of Art’s on Beacon Hill, the old grocery store site at 13th and Shelton which Michael owns (we’ve posted about it previously), and he gave us permission to post his message:

I am writing to let you know what’s up with Art’s.

The City of Seattle has re-instated my continuous use retail zoning and I will be working directly with them so that I can open my doors to the public. They have granted me the month of April to raise funds on this project and MIXED: FIRST PERSON is on display to the public Friday and Saturday nights through the month. I also received a phone call from a law student in Wisconsin, who for a class, is member of a law team representing Art’s vs. The City of Seattle. Interesting, huh? Thanks to those on your blog who forwarded my plight to the world. At least I know someone in Wisconsin gives a rat’s ass (LOL). I need to raise $25,000.00 to make this all happen. I do not have a lot of time, and if I cannot raise this money this site will be lost as a place of business. The City will not continue the use if I lose this property to foreclosure, due to the predatory loan I got into. I cannot express my Gratitude enough to Jeff Jones, my attorney and Lucas DeHererra DPD, who have both diligently found ways to work together to preserve my dream. Please post this as I need now more than ever to find a solution that will keep this community project going. This has pushed me into Chapter 13, and that light at the end of the tunnel seems far and distant… Thanks for listening, etc., and the opportunity to publicly announce this story; Art’s Gallery will be a grandfathered retail space by late summer 2010, and another neighborhood community based local business can be saved.

If you want to contact Michael, you can reach him at 206-861-6260 or egodd1@msn.com.

Neighbors invited to discuss future of ART’s on Beacon Hill coffeehouse

ART's on Beacon Hill at 13th and Shelton will host a community meeting this weekend and fundraising performances during April. Photo by Wendi.
Owner Michael Perrone sent this letter about the future of the ART’s on Beacon Hill coffeehouse in the former DeVos grocery at 13th and Shelton:

Dear Neighbors,

Thank you for all of your recent and generous support, as we are working hard to provide a community center that supports and reflects the diversity and rich history of our Beacon Hill and Georgetown neighborhoods.

On Saturday March 27, 2010 between 5 and 7 p.m., you are invited to attend a special community meeting at ART’s to discuss upcoming events and options for further community involvement and support. All neighbors are invited so please spread the word!

As you know, we have been working closely with the City of Seattle to renew historic licensing allowing for the reinstatement of ART’s as the community corner where neighbors gather, share a cup of hot beverage, a tasty delight, and news of the day. It is our aim to continue this tradition and reopen the corner coffee shop as a community hub and center of creativity. To assist in this endeavor, ART’s has recently partnered with CULTURE FORUM, a non-profit Culture and Arts organization dedicated to artist and cultural exchange through community building.

ART’s current offering opens April 1 running through May 1, and is entitled MIXED: First Person and is a 42 minute multi-media stage play developed with the Evergreen State College, CULTURE FORUM, and of course ART’s.

We are very close to achieving our goals, but cannot do it without your input, involvement, and support. So please accept our invitation to attend this special meeting, and we hope to see you very soon at ART’s! If you have any questions, please feel free to give a call or just stop on by!

Sincerely yours,
Michael Perrone
ART’s on Beacon Hill
4951 13th ave south 98108
phone: 206-861-6260

Christian Ryser of CULTURE FORUM tells the Beacon Hill Blog that the city has agreed to reinstate the building’s original historic status and zoning, including retail and gallery use, and that they are allowing fundraisers to be held. The Mixed: First Person show is functioning as a fundraising effort for ART’s. He adds, “The bad news is that ART’s is suffering from the same banking malpractice as the rest of the world. Culture Forum has partnered with ART’s to provide artistic direction as well as an avenue for tax deductible donations. We are attempting to find a way to modify and or buy out the absurd loan on the building. ” They are working with an attorney from Beacon Hill in this effort.

The arts are active on Beacon Hill

Proposed Beacon Arts logo by Joel Lee.
It’s an interesting time for the arts on the Hill these days.

Monday night at the Beacon Hill Library, the first meeting was held to organize a Beacon Arts Council. Jessie McKenna of ROCKiT Space reports:

“A group of artists, neighbors and artist-neighbors gathered (Monday) at the Beacon Hill branch of the library and discussed organizing something of a Beacon Arts Council. A few of us volunteered to be on the steering committee for such an organization. We secured a web domain name and a Ning site (a social networking site like the one ROCKiT space uses) and began the process of building an online presence as well as a physical presence. The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 5th, 6:30-9:30pm at ROCKiT space (3315 Beacon Avenue South) and is open to all interested parties.

For now, you can find us at http://beaconarts.ning.com/.”

Speaking of the ROCKiT website, if you go there you can find information on the Beacon Rocks! music festival currently planned for the Lander Festival Street on June 13, July 11, August 8, and August 29. Interested in volunteering? Glad you asked!

In the visual art realm, Beacon Hill may not have any traditional art galleries, but it’s home to one very cool non-traditional one, home_page.project. Artist (and neighbor) Klara Glosova occasionally turns her home into a venue for art. On Saturday she hosted a show called “Nepo” (it’s “open,” backwards), in which the whole house—one lived in by Glosova’s whole family—was filled with art, including sculpture, painting, video, and music: “a visual experience perched on the threshold of spontaneous creative experience and perfected mastery.” There’s even art in the bathroom and the bedroom closet! If you missed Saturday’s show, you can still see it today, March 6, from 4:00-6:00 pm, at 1723 South Lander Street, just a block east of Beacon Hill Station.

If you can’t make it, you can see an overview of the show on Glosova’s website, or check out the review on the Slog. (We previously wrote about the home_page.project in January.)

Zoning may keep 13th Ave coffeehouse closed

Art's on Beacon Hill in the old DeVos Grocery building at 13th and Shelton. All photos in this post by Wendi.
Michael Perrone has a dream for an old grocery store near Maple Elementary School. In his dream, the old DeVos grocery store at 13th and Shelton, closed since 2005, would be a neighborhood gathering place, called Art’s on Beacon Hill. It would contain a coffeehouse with art on the walls, a jukebox, a player piano, and a performance studio. The building would be a resource and asset to neighbors in this mid-Beacon Hill neighborhood.

It hasn’t quite worked out as planned. Perrone painted, cleaned and decorated the old building, using vintage parts salvaged from the old grocery store in many places, and it looks just about ready to open. (In fact, an “Open” sign usually sits in the doorway.) But it remains officially closed, as it has since 2008 when the Seattle Department of Planning and Development (DPD) notified Perrone that he could not operate a “community theater” in part of the building.

Old objects found when renovating the DeVos building decorate a vintage display unit in the coffee shop. Owner Michael Perrone's reflection appears in the middle.

The building’s history goes back a long way on Beacon Hill. Louis DeVos brought his family to the Hill in 1908, and in 1909, they moved into a house on South Shelton Street. A few years later, Louis bought the plot of land at 13th and Shelton and built a retail building there, first renting it to an Italian grocer, then establishing his own grocery business. The family business was successful, and eventually grew to include three stores including one at 2718 Beacon Avenue South (currently the location known as the empty “South China Restaurant” lot just south of Beacon Hill Station). Though two of the DeVos stores were closed during the Depression, the store at 13th and Shelton remained open into the 21st century, finally closing for good in August 2005. It was sold to Perrone as a “tear-down” in 2006.

Though the building had operated continuously as a commercial building since it was built in 1915, later in the 20th century the site was rezoned to SF5000 — single-family housing. Existing businesses such as the DeVos Grocery are allowed to continue in operation when their zoning changes, as a “non-conforming use.”

A jukebox and Perrone's dog Sebastian in the area of the building that was intended to be a coffee shop.

If the non-conforming use lapses for a certain amount of time, however, the building reverts to single-family, and a new business can’t go back to the non-conforming use. Seattle Municipal Code 23.42.104 B says: “A nonconforming use that has been discontinued for more than 12 consecutive months shall not be reestablished or recommenced.” There are certain exceptions, but it is unclear whether Perrone’s use of the DeVos building was what DPD required to maintain commercial status as required in the code. Perrone believes so; he did acquire a permit to install commercial-grade electrical service in the building, and he states that he also sold salvage from the building’s old contents to maintain commercial status until the coffeehouse could open.

In 2008, Perrone began using the building’s performance studio. In March of that year, the Beacon Hill Times/South District Journal (now South Seattle Beacon) ran an article about the plans for the former grocery, stating that it would be “a coffee shop, repertory theater and eventually an education center” and home to the Seattle Novyi Theatre repertory group.

In April of that year, a complaint was filed with DPD about his use of the building for theater rehearsals and performances. Perrone says that DPD declared the site in violation, and also told him that he could not legally live in the caretaker’s apartment and would be fined $1500/day for illegally residing there, retroactive to when he bought the building in 2006. “I owe the city a million and a half,” he says.

The performance space at Art's.

Later in 2008, says Perrone, he gave up, feeling pushed into a corner. In frustration, he told DPD “fine, turn it into a single-family residence.” Currently, an open application is on file with DPD to do so.

In the meantime, Perrone still fights to save the building for his original intended use, with pro bono help from a lawyer who grew up in the neighborhood. He has a petition signed by over 150 neighbors who support his plans for the DeVos building. “Only one neighbor said ‘no,'” he points out.

Neighbor Dayna Provitt sent a message to the Beacon Hill Mailing List recently, appealing for help for Perrone:

“My husband and I were so glad to see the building purchased, and Mike’s attempts to put something into this part of Beacon Hill that might help bring a ‘neighborhoody’ feel to the street. … Here’s a guy who’s trying to bring some energy and community building to our neighborhood… and getting stuck in red tape. We’d hate to see this building go back to being an empty space again. … Maybe someone in the neighborhood can help him cut through the red tape and get his project going! Something useful in this space would be so great for our street.”

With no way to legally open the coffeehouse, Perrone has been unable to pay the building’s mortgage since August. It is currently scheduled to be sold at a foreclosure sale on April 2, unless fate intervenes and Art’s on Beacon Hill can open.

The player piano, mostly in tune, awaits coffeeshop customers and performers.

(More photos of the building after the jump.) Continue reading Zoning may keep 13th Ave coffeehouse closed

Cat adoptathon, ROCKiT grand opening this weekend

You know you want one. Photo by Kpjas.
You know you want one. Photo by Kpjas.
The Seattle Animal Shelter Cat Adoptathon returns to our neighborhood this Saturday, from noon to 3:00 pm at the Jefferson Community Center, 3801 Beacon Avenue South. There will be cats of many breeds available.

Adoption prices for cats range from $102 to $107, and include:

  • Initial vaccinations
  • Deworming
  • Feline Leukemia testing
  • Certificate for free health exam at local veterinarians
  • Spay or neuter
  • Microchip
  • Two-year Seattle Pet License (if applicable)

Also this weekend, ROCKiT space (in the old Buggy location, 3315 Beacon Avenue South) is holding their grand opening event, both Saturday and Sunday. ROCKiT space is a non-profit organization devoted to making music and art accessible to all. They have equipment and space available to members, including musical instruments and P.A. equipment, art supplies, books, rehearsal space, performance space, and more. This weekend they will have “neat stuff for all ages including pumpkin carving, a costume exchange (bring your spare costume stuff!), live music and much more.”