Grand reopening: Open Space celebrates remodel with community event

After three long years of juggling to keep programing on schedule while construction permits and deadlines shifted, Open Space for Arts & Community will welcome the community back into its newly-renovated interior with a grand reopening celebration from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday.

The transformation from the cavernous, unheated former warehouse of Seattle’s Best Coffee into a warm and inviting building with a new entrance, floor-to-ceiling glass atrium, four multi-use rooms, a reconfigured grand hall and brand new black box theater took many hands and minds to complete. Open Space is now ready to share the changes with the island and has a special line-up of events planned for Saturday.

Proceedings will begin at noon with a ribbon cutting that Open Space Executive Director Amanda Westbrooke said will include three tiers. The first tier will be all the construction people like Karen Biondo and David Bollen, followed by the second tier with Vashon’s unofficial mayor Tink Carette and — unconfirmed at press time — King County Executive Dow Constantine, Senator Sharon Nelson and Emma Amiad, “who sold us our building and imagined our future before we did — thank you, Emma,” added Janet McAlpin, co-founder of Open Space.

The third tier will be all the former and current Open Space workers. Islander, organizational design consultant and Buddhist teacher Larry Ward will do a blessing for the building as the ribbon is cut.

“Then we’ll walk inside, and donor names (placed in some unexpected spots) will be revealed,” Westbrooke said.

With much enthusiasm, McAlpin explained that special guest artist Yuming Zhu, an internationally-recognized sumi painter, will be in the grand hall to paint a calligraphic circle for Open Space and the organization’s tag words: art. heart. soul.

“His brush is 6-feet tall,” McAlpin said.

There will be smaller sumi brushes and paper for guests and live sculpture created by UMO School of Physical Arts aerialists in the atrium, while circus gymnastics takes place in an adjacent room. Artwork by on-and-off island artists will be shown, including mixed media works by Cathy Sarkowsky, acrylic on canvas by Jessica Bolding, upcycled metal works by Julia Anderson, responsible apparel by Rebecca Wittman and a fir bench by Hans Nelsen. Guest Seattle artist Cathy McClure will place her magical, strobe-lit zoetropes inside the black box theater, considered “the jewel of Open Space.” Holiday treats and drinks will be served.

“It’s so great to finally have no reins on programming,” Westrbrooke said with relief.

“It’s been three years of stop and go. Now the space is free, so book it,” laughed McAlpin.

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