Maple Valley Creative Arts Council has gone from a proverbial hole in the wall to vaulted ceilings and a loft art studio.
The arts group, in its 10th year, has for some time occupied a tiny office that’s nearly invisible on the corner of the Key Bank building in the Four Corners area. Now its members are preparing to celebrate the grand opening of its new space on the other side of town next week.
“This has been fun,” said Mary Jane Glaser, the council’s president. “It’s an opportunity to create a wonderful space.”
Taking up two former warehouse bays in suite 15 on the back side of the same building that Gloria’s restaurant and Maple Valley Tattoo occupies, the Maple Valley Creative Arts Center has a stage left over from the church that was the previous occupant. It also has new flooring that Glaser found on Craigslist, a new paint job, and a former HVAC maintenance room that is now a loft art studio complete with lockers for artists to rent to store their materials.
Glaser said she believed for some time the Arts Council needed a bigger space with flexibility in its usage in order to move forward and grow.
Until December 2006, she wasn’t quite sure how that was going to happen, until Glaser was approached by then-Maple Valley city manager Anthony Hemstad. He asked her if she’d heard from Metropolitan King County Councilman Reagan Dunn, who represents the 9th District, which includes Maple Valley, where he lives.
At first, she said, Hemstad didn’t want to steal Dunn’s thunder.
“He told me that Reagan had some discretionary (county) funds left at the end of 2006,” Glaser said. “He asked Anthony if he knew of any community organizations that could benefit.”
Some of that money was channeled into a grant of $25,000 from 4Culture, the county’s cultural services agency.
“I was floored,” Glaser said. “So, all of 2007 I spent looking for a space.”
She looked all over Maple Valley and was beginning to lose hope that she would find a place “that would allow us to provide what we wanted to offer to fulfill our mission.” As a last-ditch effort, she asked developer Jim Flynn, who owns the plaza that the arts council now calls home, if he had any place that might work. Flynn showed her the space, and with some imagination and vision, Glaser said, they figured out a way to make it work.
The arts center is next door to the Rock School of Maple Valley. Glaser said Flynn, a former Maple Valley City Council member, built a new wall between the two spaces.
To replace carpet that didn’t seem the best for the things the arts council planned to use its new space for, Glaser scoured Craigslist for deals.
“We wanted to be sure the floor would be easy to clean after workshops or events,” she said. “I found this flooring on Craiglist for 55 cents a square foot. So I called up Mike Lingle and asked him if he could install it.”
Lingle, who is with Woody’s Hardwood Flooring in Renton, and Glaser met at a chamber of commerce networking event. He agreed to put the hardwood floor in for “a reasonable fee.”
Other help, Glaser said, came in the form of painting.
“The thought of us painting this interior was really daunting,” Glaser said. “The top of (one) wall must be at least 25 feet high, if not more. Through the chamber of commerce, I met Kevin Kalberg of Klaffey’s Painting. He donated all the paint and all the labor. Not only was that a huge statement of generosity, but a huge statement of support for arts in the community.
“It’s been so gratifying having so many people want to get our center going.”
Eventually there will be art hanging from the walls, performances on the small stage, and workshops or meetings.
There’s also a wall-mounted projector and a screen that drops down. Glaser envisions hosting independent film series that showcase local talent. Tahoma High School has a popular video production program, and Glaser would like to offer those students a place to show their work as well as Tahoma graduates when they come back to visit.
“I’m excited about that because I do love watching film,” she said. “It’s gratifying to know young filmmakers got their start in our public schools.”
The Arts Council also wants to offer space for Tahoma School District student dramas and homeschool art classes.
“We have an opportunity to provide space for workshops and performances and meetings,” she said. “Right now our slate is clear and the opportunities are endless.”
Staff writer Kris Hill can be reached at (425) 432-1209 (extension 5054) and email@example.com