On August 29, 2008, photographer Hugo Ludeña; Cathryn Vandenbrink, regional director for nonprofit real-estate developer Artspace Projects; youth-arts program Coyote Central and its cofounder Marybeth Satterlee; 14/48, "The World's Quickest Theater Festival"; Nonsequitur, a nonprofit dedicated to presenting and promoting new and experimental music; and the Wing Luke Asian Museum are honored with Seattle Mayor's Arts Awards in a ceremony at Seattle Center. More than 200 individuals and organizations were nominated for the awards, and after reviewing them all the Seattle Arts Commission recommended these six to Mayor Greg Nickels (b. 1955), who announced the winners on June 12. This is the sixth year for the arts awards, which were initiated by Mayor Nickels and the arts commission in 2003 and have become an annual tradition, with the ceremony held each Labor Day weekend at the start of Bumbershoot, Seattle's music and arts festival.
Born and raised in Lima, Peru, Hugo Ludeña moved to the United States when he was 18 to study graphic design and photojournalism. He came to the Northwest in 1993 and landed a youth-outreach job in Seattle. In his artist statement on the Greg Kucera gallery website, the photographer recounts:
"I felt immediately welcomed by this community. I also discovered that Latinos living in the Northwest were very isolated from the rest of the society. I began capturing the Latino life as it happened; through festivals, concerts, community events, traditional weddings and every day life ("Statement").
The result was the photo essay "Latinos in the Northwest: A Cultural Journey," 80 images that Ludeña began selecting from his thousands of photos in 2004. It was exhibited around the region beginning in 2007.
In addition to producing and exhibiting his own work, Ludeña continued to teach photography and serve as a mentor for youth in the community. As a teaching artist with the South Park PhotoVoice Project run by the nonprofit Youth in Focus, he worked with young people photographing their South Seattle neighborhood. He said, "They photograph things they want to change in their community: graffiti, old housing, drugs on the street" (Appelo).
In 2006 Ludeña began publishing the fine-arts quarterly Latino Cultural Magazine, both to bring the work of fellow Latino artists to greater public attention and to help those artists connect with each other and with the wider arts and culture community. He explained:
"There's a lot of frustration for immigrant artists ... They come from good fine-arts schools in their home countries. Now they're working in a restaurant, going to art fairs. The process of getting into a gallery here is difficult" (Appelo).
Ludeña's magazine, and his example as a successful artist, helped others facing those obstacles to surmount them.
At the time she received the Mayor's Arts Award, Cathryn Vandenbrink had spent more than a decade "working to carve out long-term affordable space for artists and arts organizations in Seattle" ("Mayor's Arts Awards ..."), first as deputy director of the Pioneer Square Community Development Organization and then as regional director for Artspace Projects. Having earlier made her living as a jewelry artist for 20 years, she knew firsthand the need for affordable arts space, as described in a profile published in conjunction with the award:
"'I was living in a loft in Pioneer Square and became aware of how fast buildings were changing,' she recalls. Rents skyrocketed and artists fled. 'We once had over five hundred artists' studios in Pioneer Square ... We lost about eight buildings in two or three years'" (Appelo).
Vandenbrink learned how to work with a range of city agencies to reverse the flight of artists from Seattle. "It was all new to me, but everywhere you look, people want to help -- the Office of Housing, Department of Neighborhoods, people in Planning and Development and in Transportation. They saw how important it was to the health of the city" (Appelo).
In an effort to preserve Pioneer Square as an arts district by ensuring space there for artists, Vandenbrink and the Pioneer Square Community Development Organization turned to Artspace, a nonprofit developer dedicated to creating and preserving affordable space for artists and arts groups, which began in Minnesota and grew to be the largest such organization in the country. They invited Artspace to redevelop two adjoining turn-of-the-century buildings in Pioneer Square into space for artists and arts groups. Impressed with Vandenbrink, Artspace brought her aboard as regional director, and in that role she oversaw the project. The Tashiro Kaplan Artist Lofts and the Tashiro Arts Building opened in Pioneer Square in 2004. The lofts building made available 50 affordable live/work spaces for artists, while the arts building became home to 4Culture, King County's cultural-services agency, along with artist studios, commercial arts entities, and galleries.
In March 2008, Vandenbrink and Artspace celebrated the opening of a second Seattle project. The Hiawatha Lofts in the city's Central Area offered 61 live/work studios for artists. Vandenbrink continued to serve as Artspace regional director and oversaw several more projects before retiring in 2015. In 2010 the group opened the Artspace Everett Lofts in that Snohomish County city. It has 40 affordable live/work units for artists on the upper floors and the Schack Art Center on the ground floor. The Artspace Mt. Baker Lofts, a third Seattle project, opened in 2014 next to Sound Transit's Mount Baker light rail station. Its 57 residential units for artists, located above a ground-floor retail level, made a small dent in a big need: By the time it opened, there were more than 1,000 artists on waiting lists for Artspace's other Seattle buildings.
Coyote Central and Marybeth Satterlee
Coyote Central, which has taught and inspired thousands of young artists and creators over the past three decades, grew out of an after-school physiology class that middle-school teacher Marybeth Satterlee taught in her home to six kids. Satterlee had taught fifth and sixth grade for 17 years, in Philadelphia and Seattle, before leaving the classroom. She was home raising her child when an acquaintance suggested she start an after-school program.
Satterlee and another middle-school teacher, Greg Ewert, founded Coyote Central in 1986, recruiting other teachers and adding a variety of subjects -- science, math, geography, fiction writing, and more -- to that initial physiology class. The classes were taught in the teachers' homes. Bill Nye, later famous as "the Science Guy," was one of those early teachers.
The first classes were devoted to academics, but it did not take long for Coyote Central, which from the start emphasized "the pursuit of creativity" (Satterlee, "History"), to begin adding workshops and classes in a wide range of arts, including filmmaking, glassblowing, welding, cooking, cartooning, and more. Artists taught classes in their studios and at venues such as 911 Media Arts Center, Photographic Center Northwest, Seattle Central Community College, and the University of Washington.
Coyote initiated the CityWorks program after being asked to create a 12-by-12-foot movie-screen frame for a Seattle club. That became the first of many commissioned works created by young artists from Coyote CityWorks working with professional artists. Their site-specific art has been displayed in the windows of local department stores and other public locations around the city.
In 1992, Satterlee and Ewert began Coyote's Hit the Streets program "and gathered harder-to-reach kids to create major permanent public art for their communities" (Satterlee, "History"). Since then, each summer teams of 12-to-14-year-old artists have created permanent public art at locations throughout Seattle's Central Area, south end, and First Hill.
At the time of the award, Coyote Central, then led by Satterlee and Claudia Stelle, was serving hundreds of young people each year. Three years later, in 2011, the organization achieved a milestone when it opened its own campus. Over the next six years, annual enrollment climbed to more than 1,600.
14/48: The World's Quickest Theater Festival
14/48 is aptly described by its name and "official nickname ... 'the world's quickest theater festival.'" Twice each year it presents a marathon of "14 plays conceived, written, designed, scored, rehearsed and performed in 48 hours" ("Mayor's Art Awards ..."). Michael Neff and Jodi-Paul Wooster produced the first 14/48 theater marathon in 1997. Within three years they had developed the twice-yearly schedule and started a partnership with multidisciplinary art center Consolidated Works (which received one of the first Mayor's Arts Awards in 2003, and closed in 2008) that lasted until 2005. After that, 14/48 "cemented its status as an itinerant festival," holding weekend theater marathons at venues across Seattle, including the Broadway Performance Hall, Capitol Hill Arts Center, Theatre Off Jackson, On the Boards, ACT Theatre, and Seattle Repertory Theatre ("About the 14/48 Projects").
The festivals followed a seemingly simple script:
"At 14/48, ideas for play themes are put into a hat at 8 p.m. on Thursday. Writers create a ten-minute script overnight.
"Directors each draw a play and cast members from the hat and start rehearsing Friday morning; so do musicians who've never worked together before. At 8 p.m., you get seven world premieres" ("Mayor's Arts Awards ...").
And then the entire process is repeated over the next 24 hours.
In 2013, the 14/48 Projects was formed to produce "The World's Quickest Theater Festival" events in Seattle, and to expand the concept across the country and internationally. As of 2017, in addition to Seattle there were 14/48 festivals in Austin, Texas, and in Leicester, Wolverhampton, and London in England. The organization also produces a range of other theatrical events in the Seattle area, including a festival just for local high-school students, and Theater Anonymous, an annual holiday event in which each performer rehearses alone with the director, and the entire cast remains unknown even to its members until the performance.
Nonsequitur, known since 2007 for bringing a wealth of experimental and avant-garde music to Seattle audiences through its Wayward Music Series at the Chapel Performance Space in the Wallingford neighborhood, took a roundabout route to becoming a leading producer of new-music concerts. Founders Jonathan Scheuer and Steve Peters met in the 1980s as students at Evergreen State College in Olympia, where there worked at the college radio station, KAOS-FM. They began Nonsequitur in 1989 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, as a record label. Within a few years they expanded into publishing, opened a gallery in Albuquerque, and began producing some concerts. Nonsequitur moved to Seattle in 2004 and for the next three years presented performances and other events in rented spaces.
In 2007 Nonsequitur signed a long-term lease for the former chapel -- "a stunningly lovely space with fine acoustics" (Appelo) -- in Wallingford's historic Good Shepherd Center. Originally a home for young women operated by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, the building was redeveloped as a community center in 1975. Initiating the Wayward Music Series, Nonsequitur made the Chapel Performance Space available to performers at a subsidized rate "to fill a vital need for affordable space to present uncompromising non-commercial music" ("History," Nonsequitur website). Peters explained:
"We provide a congenial space for many artists to present challenging work and make it possible for them to take creative risks without having to worry too much about money ... For most of this music, forty people is a big audience. We believe that artists should not be punished for that. In fact, they should be encouraged to experiment ...
"Gathering together all these individual avant-garde sub-genres -- modern classical, improvisation, fringe jazz, electronic and computer music -- in one high-profile venue increases visibility for all of them and makes connections between them ... We help keep the margins from getting erased and give cutting-edge artists one more reason to stay here. And keeping creative, visionary people around makes Seattle a more interesting, exciting place to be. For everyone" (Appelo).
By the time it marked its first decade in 2017, the Wayward Music Series had presented some 1,200 concerts across a vast range of musical styles. John Luther Adams, Stuart Dempster, Amy Denio, Lori Goldston, Robin Holcomb, Paul Kikuchi, Joe McPhee, Pauline Oliveros, Paul Rucker, and Cristina Valdes were just a few of the many national and local performers and composers that Nonsequitur and its partners brought to the Chapel Performance Space in that time.
Wing Luke Asian Museum
The Mayor's Art Award came at a momentous time for the Wing Luke Asian Museum (later known as the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience). Just weeks before Mayor Nickels announced the 2008 recipients, the museum made a long-awaited move to a new home. On May 31, 2008, it opened in the renovated East Kong Yick Building at 719 S King Street in Seattle's Chinatown/International District. With 60,000 square feet spread across its four floors, the historic structure, originally built in 1910 by Chinese immigrants, was some eight times larger than the former parking garage nearby that the museum had occupied for many years. Renovating the Kong Yick Building, which had been largely abandoned since the 1970s, cost more than $23 million, but the result was a success. One commentator said it "brilliantly manages both to preserve a sense of history (including a replica of the Yick Fung Company, a Chinese store that opened in 1910) and to bring the architecture into the new century" (Appelo).
The museum's name honors Wing Luke (1925-1965), who as a child emigrated with his family from China to Seattle. Luke served in the U.S. Army in World War II, receiving a Bronze Star, then earned a law degree and worked as an assistant attorney general. In 1962 he was elected to the Seattle City Council, becoming the first person of color to serve on that body and the first Asian American to hold elected office in the Pacific Northwest. On the council he was an early advocate for historical preservation of Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square, and the city's Central Waterfront, and a strong voice for civil rights. Luke's career and life were cut tragically short when he died in a plane crash in 1965.
The Wing Luke Memorial Foundation, established after Luke's death, developed a pan-Asian museum bearing his name. It opened in its first location, a storefront on 8th Avenue S in the Chinatown/International District, on May 17, 1967. For many years, the Wing Luke Asian Museum made its home in a 7,500-square-foot building on 7th Avenue S that had previously housed a parking garage. Despite the cramped space, the museum achieved considerable success, becoming the first Smithsonian Institution affiliate in the Pacific Northwest.
Under longtime director Ron Chew, who took the helm in the early 1990s and served until 2007, the museum developed its signature "community-driven approach to exhibits" ("Mayor's Arts Awards ..."). Chew invited the city's Japanese Americans to create their own exhibit on Japanese internment during World War II, and the museum has since relied on members of the community rather than professional curators to conceive and develop exhibits.
In 2013, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar designated the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience a National Park Service Affiliated Area.