The Kirkland Art Center will host the 15th annual Kirkland Artist Studio Tour, (KAST) which will feature more than 40 local artists across multiple studios in downtown Kirkland.
“It’s a pretty important tradition for us here,” said Geneva Baldauf, the exhibitions coordinator at the Kirkland Arts Center. “It’s really great, we have artist’s studios open all over Kirkland.”
The tour runs from May 12-13 on Mother’s Day weekend, as it does every year. The tour is free and gives locals an opportunity to see local artists create within their own studios.
Beginning at the Kirkland Art Center, tourists will find maps outlining which studios are participating. Artists will display numerous different mediums, including jewelry, glass art, paintings, photography, garden art, sculpture, furniture and fiber arts.
“We’re kind of the hub of the event,” Baldauf said. “But it’s here for the community and it’s here for people to go into the studios and most likely the homes of these artists to feel a better sense of community.”
The tour will also feature numerous children’s activities, food trucks and live music performances.
While the main tour is free and self-guided, the Kirkland Art Center is currently selling 12 VIP tickets for the La Skibska Bus hosted tour. The hosted tour is limited to guests 21 and older as it includes a continental breakfast with mimosas, snacks, wine, lunch and a KAST swag bag.
“It’s good for people who just want to spend a Mother’s Day hanging out with their family,” Baldauf said. “It’s super low pressure and just there to be fun and exciting.”
A handful of local artists started the KAST in 2004 and featured seven to 12 artists during the first few years. The arts center took over operations in 2008 and aimed to implement new programming that supports the local art community.
This year’s KAST will also feature a local high schooler’s ceramics art in addition to other new artists and returning artists. Any local artist can be featured in the KAST, but the tour typically features locals who have already established themselves as artists.
“I think it’s important for the community to see what’s happening in their own backyards,” Baldauf said. “A lot of people don’t think of Kirkland as an artistic place but it really is, we have a lot of fantastic artists who live here and are the sweetest people.”
The Kirkland Arts Center is headquartered at the Peter Kirk Building in downtown Kirkland. The center preserved the building in 1962 when the organization was founded by locals as the Creative Arts League.
The building was completed in 1892 on the corner of Market Street and 7th Avenue to be used as part of a steel mill complex. An economic depression in 1893 halted the project and eventually the building was abandoned.
The structure has been as an exhibition gallery, community arts studios, and classrooms serving students of all ages and skill levels since it’s preservation in 1962. The exterior architecture remains unchanged.
According to the Kirkland Art Center’s website, “the Peter Kirk Building is architecturally significant as a well-preserved example of Victorian-era commercial architecture with Romanesque Revival elements.”
Baldauf said she expects the KAST to continue its upward trajectory. The number of participating artists has been slowly growing and this is the first year the tour will feature a sponsored VIP tour.
“It’s great that we can actually bring that side of Kirkland out into the world and tell people that Kirkland is a creative place too,” Baldauf said.