Smart creative people renovate old Bayview School for an exciting new venture

Posted in Feature, Visual Art

Whidbey Life Magazine
April 24, 2013

The old, lovely Bayview School has been refreshed and put to good use, thanks to a collaborative of ambitious community members.

Everyone is invited to an open house weekend of the new arts and education center that takes place throughout the day on Saturday, April 27, followed by an opening artists’ reception in the evening; and a technology talk on Sunday, April 28.

Rhiannon Fisher, administrator) of New Stories / Whidbey Geodome, Rich Parker, Executive Director of WICEC and Lauryn Taylor Director of the Art Center @ WICEC, are three of the collaborators who helped renovate the old Bayview School into a new center for arts and education. (Photo courtesy of Lauryn Taylor)

Rhiannon Fisher, administrator at New Stories/Whidbey Geodome, Rich Parker, executive director of WICEC and Lauryn Taylor, director of the Art Center @ WICEC, are three of the collaborators who helped renovate the old Bayview School into a new center for arts and education. (Photos courtesy of Lauryn Taylor)

It doesn’t have an official name yet, but for now the collaborators have cleaned up what used to be a somewhat dark and dank building, opened up its rooms, added some colorful paint and welcoming halogen lighting and – Voila! – an arts and education cooperative is born.

The collaboration includes an arts center with a school and exhibition galleries; a science and technology portion from the folks at “New Stories/Whidbey Geodome”; adult classes in just about everything offered by the Whidbey Island Community Education Center (WICEC); and new offices for the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts (NILA), the umbrella organization, which includes the Whidbey Island Writers Association.

Artist Lauryn Taylor has organized the arts center portion (which for now is called the Art Center @WICEC) and was kind enough to provide a tour of the new building, which was still being transformed last weekend by the sweat of hard-working volunteers and the penny jars of the collaborators.

“We all feel at home here,” Taylor said of the folks who decided to come together to create something useful, and save the South Whidbey School District’s historic building from obsolescence.

Kim Cottrell is the executive director of NILA and is thrilled to be a part of the collaborative workspace. NILA had been working from a very small space in Freeland for years and Cottrell said the Bayview effort has provided a boost of spirit for all these organizations.

“I can’t begin to feel express the excitement that I feel. This very warm place where we all feel at home; where we have great meetings to talk about where we’re going and what we’re doing,” Cottrell said.

NILA is in the midst of enrollment for the MFA program, while finishing up the WIWA’s Lockdown Retreat in Coupeville and preparing for the Whidbey Island Writers’ Conference.

“We’ve got a lot going on and we’re happy to have a home. It’s just so much easier for all of us,” Cottrell added, referring to the collaboration of the partners.

Rich Parker is one of the founders of WICEC, a nonprofit that started in spring 2012, with a variety of courses that have included EFT, Internet Safety, 3D Printing, photography and other subjects.

“We make sure we have a breath of courses in arts, academic classes and crafts,” Parker said. Parker also expressed his satisfaction about finally have a place to call home for the education center.

The New Stories/Geodome folks were in meeting mode during this particular tour, but a peek into their new offices revealed a group (Rick Ingrasci, Joe Menth and Rhiannon Fisher among them) that was deep into plans to reveal ideas for science education and a new paradigm for thinking about one’s place within the universe.

The open house weekend will give folks a chance to visit with all these the instructors and administrators, while also enjoying an opening of two community art shows, literary readings, the Geodome and a technology talk from an invited expert. It will coincide with the opening of Bayview’s Farmer Market, just a stone’s throw away and a nice way to enjoy touring the center and its activities, while picking up a little something if one is feeling peckish.

Visit the center online here to find out more.

Artist Kim Tinuviel submitted this "Blooming with Color - Digital Painting" for the show at the Arts Center @WICEC.

Artist Kim Tinuviel submitted this “Blooming with Color – Digital Painting” for the show at the Arts Center @WICEC.

Open House Activities 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 27:

  • Whidbey Island Community Education Center (WICEC): Teacher demos of future classes and workshops such as Tai Chi, Japanese Folk Art, Poetry Reading and 3D Printing
  • The Art Center @ WICEC: Art course and workshop demonstrations: Hot Wax Encaustic Painting, Abstract Fluid Acrylic Painting, and Beginning Oil Painting
  • New Stories / The Whidbey Geodome will offer live presentations and a look at the production “ Earth Portal: A Guided Tour of the Universe”
  • Northwest Institute of Literary Arts (NILA) will offer readings by local authors

Artist’s Reception 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, April 27; refreshments will be provided for the event:

  • Opening of Gallery exhibitions
  • “Blooming with Color” and “Inspiring Artists”: Blooming with Color features 12-inch by 12-inch blooming-themed artworks created specifically for this show by 40 local artists. “Inspiring Artists” features selected works from WICEC art instructors Don Wodjenski (photography), Kathy Hewitt (fiber arts), Lauryn Taylor (acrylic and encaustic painting), Kim Tinuviel (photo encaustic), Cary Jurriaans (oil painting), and Joe Menth (photography).
  • New Stories and the Whidbey Geodome will show a film and demonstrate the technology behind the navigation through space.

International author and speaker Alex Alben, 6:30 p.m. Sunday, April 28:

  • “Analog Days: How Technology Changed Our Culture” sponsored by Humanities Washington and WICEC. Those of us born before 1980 increasingly cannot recognize the world around us. Our rapid adoption of computers, the Internet and mobile devices has transformed the way we communicate. This technical revolution has had profound social effects, splitting our society into “analog” and “digital” cultures. Can old analog values survive in this new digital universe? Tech expert Alben explores how digital inventions are shaping communication, political discourse and today’s media landscape.


(Pictured at top is a sculpture by Sue Taves and painting by Lauryn Taylor that grace the entrance to the new arts and education center.)

Patricia Duff is an award-winning journalist, a freelance writer and the editor of this magazine.

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