2018 Creative Catalyst Award Recipient Karen Lorene

Published: October 17, 2018

Categories: Board & Staff | Grants & Fellowships | Multidisciplinary | Spotlight

Former Artist Trust Board Member and long-time Benefit Art Auction supporter Karen Lorene is the founder and owner of Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery. Located on the first floor of the City Centre Building in Seattle’s Central Business District, Facèré represents over 50 jewelry artists from the Pacific Northwest and from around the world (including 2018 Twining Humber Award Recipient Marita Dingus!)

“When people are new to this world, I share the idea that they must be prepared for conversation: people will ask about the jewelry you are wearing. Sometimes they will even reach out to touch you! Jewelry art is an invitation that says, ‘come and talk to me.’”

Surprisingly, Karen didn’t start out as a jewelry collector. Her former career was as an educator, teaching for seven years in Chicago and Seattle. She found herself in the world of antique sales when her mother gifted her an attic full of things. Without any knowledge of running a business, but with John Dewey’s educational philosophy “Learn-by-Doing” she transformed into an entrepreneur.

“One of my most memorable early sales was that of a turn-of-the century Monarch cast iron stove. I had just moved this very large, very heavy stove, piece by piece, into my window display. A gentleman walked in to my store and said, ‘How much?’ I thought I would cry! Even worse, he asked ‘And, you deliver?’ My very next thought was, there has got to be something in the world of antiques that’s little, that you can fit in your hands, and that costs as much as a cast iron stove. Antique jewelry! It was a wise decision.”

Karen’s first shops were North Country Fair (a named inspired by Bob Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country”) and Vanity Fair. These shops were both located at Pier 70. That pier was on Seattle’s waterfront and had been converted to hold numerous small retail shops (and The Smuggler restaurant). Those first years, Karen learned about the retail world. The day came when her Advisory Board suggested she consider moving up-town. For a year she courted the owners of the newly built Seattle Sheraton Hotel. She was given a lease after she agreed to do the build-out in the hotel. She used all of her funds from a property sale and gladly used the skills of her architect husband. Karen opened her first “Facèré Jewelry Art.”

And the name? On the night before signing the newly minted lease agreement, she and her husband thought they ought to find a name that was sophisticated and unique. They took out a dictionary, randomly turned pages, and by serendipity landed on the word ‘facere.’ This word is the Latin derivative “to make or to do.” “We put French accents on our newly found word, (if Häagen-Dazs can add an umlaut, we can add French accents!) And then we Italianated the pronunciation. Facèré was born.”

In the gallery’s early days, jewelry artist and University of Washington Professor Emeritus Mary Lee Hu (2008 Twining Humber Award) introduced Karen to a number of contemporary jewelry makers. Those makers, including Mary, viewed their work as sculptural and wearable art.

This perception of jewelry as an art object made an impression on Karen. “Jewelry tells people who you are. Jewelry art speaks a specific message by way of imagery, size, the frequency with which it is worn, and the love and imagination brought to it by the maker.”

For over three decades, Karen has integrated her teaching background with operating a jewelry gallery. She regularly holds five to six events a year, introducing people to the world of antique and contemporary jewelry art. “I loved education so a whole part of what we do – in terms of the artist lectures and literary readings on opening night – are about learning.” Currently on view at the gallery is Signs of Life, an annual jewelry art exhibition and literary journal (in its 14 year) showing the work of nine jewelry artists and nine published writers.

At the end of 2018, Karen will be retiring with 46 years of retail experience. Twenty-seven of the most recent years have been at City Centre. “After eight hours of standing up for many, many years, I’m at an age where I can now perhaps say ‘goodbye.’” In her retirement, Karen plans to focus on completing her third novel and her sixth book. In addition, Karen holds a degree in painting and is looking forward to engaging in artmaking again. “I would like to get back into the arts somehow, take some classes in drawing, and refresh my thoughts and skills,” she shared.

In November, Karen will be presented with the 2018 Creative Catalyst Award for her dedication and commitment to supporting individual artists and long-time involvement with Artist Trust. On hearing that she would receive this year’s award, Karen said, “I started to cry because I couldn’t believe it! It was so out of the blue. When you’re [running] a business, you’re just putting one foot in front of the other, paying the rent, and hoping your staff is happy and you are serving your artists well. This award is an honor. Recognition encourages others in the art world to take a chance, to get into the art business and to do it with grace and love. I am so flattered!”

All are invited to raise a toast to Karen and this year’s grant recipients at Gather: An Artist Trust Celebration on Thursday, November 15 from 6:00 – 8:30 PM at Traver Gallery. Admission is by sliding scale donation. Hosted bar and refreshments provided. Purchase tickets on Eventbrite here. Additionally, Facèré will hold a celebration for Karen’s retirement on the evening of Wednesday, November 14. Contact Facèré Gallery at facereart@gmail.com to RSVP.