Musical Chairs at the Gallery

Given the amount of vacant retail space here and in Bellevue, an art gallery can make an easy short-term tenant. Give them sub-market rent, or no rent at all, and it even becomes a charitable deduction. Plus you look good in the community.

So we were concerned when Eastside gallery Open Satellite announced this week that curator Abigail Guay was jumping ship to the Henry. (And we were surprised that a museum--let alone any arts organization--could afford to add staff in this economy.) Established in 2007, Open Satellite is a curated artistic residency space located in the mixed-use 989 Elements complex being erected in stages by Su Development. We like the space; and its current Godzilla-inspired installation exhausted, by members of the Simparch collective, continues through October 3.

But does Guay's departure mean it's closing...?

(Image: Malcolm Smith)

No. It actually appears that Open Satellite will continue in it present form so long as the real estate market remains soft. In a release (from Guay herself), we learn:

"Open Satellite Board of Advisors has selected Yoko Ott to serve as Interim Director in charge of all operations. This move coincides with planned changes in the organizational structure of Open Satellite which will seek application for 501(c)3 nonprofit status during the coming year."

So that's actually good news. Instead of another American Apparel store or Hard Rock Cafe, Bellevue keeps a little culture within its confines.

Ott comes from a variety of arts-related posts, including Seattle University's Hedreen Gallery, 826 Seattle, Bumbershoot, and the Frye Art Museum. For the next residency, scheduled to begin November 10, she's selected Japanese artist Meiro Koizumi. The installation will be called Future. In it, per Ott:

"Koizumi will examine-through installation, performance, and video-the plight of Japanese Americans residing in Bellevue, WA during World War II. Established in part by second generation Japanese (Nisei) farmers (primarily strawberry growers), Bellevue was home to a thriving agribusiness at the beginning of the 20th Century. This came to a rapid end during WWII when most regional Japanese Americans were put in internment camps. After the war, Bellevue residents did not welcome the return of the farmers - land values rose in the postwar suburb and residential and commercial development took priority over the reinstatement of the displaced population. In a symbolic homage to the history of the land where Open Satellite stands, a real strawberry field will be grown within the gallery space to act as a stage for Koizumi's scenes."
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