Supporter Spotlight: Laurie Kearney

Laurie Kearney moved to Seattle in 2005 from Richmond, VA, where she obtained her BFA in Museum Studies/Art History from VCU. She has owned and operated Ghost Gallery here in Seattle since 2006, which started as a roving exhibition project and after eight years on E. Denny Way, enjoys a new location at Chophouse Row in Capitol Hill. Along with running the gallery, she works in the music industry as a publicist focusing on new and emerging bands, keeping each foot firmly planted in both the visual art and music communities. She is the co-coordinator for Capitol Hill Art Walk and recently joined the Board of Directors for Vibrant Palette Arts Center. Laurie lives in a charming old building in Capitol Hill along with her husband Jacob James, two interesting cats, a lot of gear and a lot of art.

We interviewed Laurie about her perspective on what artists need to thrive, the role of risk and reward in her business, and why she supports Artist Trust.

As a gallerist and curator, what do you think is necessary for artists to feel supported and succeed?
Artists need access to healthy resources within their community in order to have a strong creative foundation with which to work from – affordable studio and living spaces number one; more local & regional media arts coverage (current major challenge here in Seattle); as many “non-traditional” venues as possible that are willing to show and support art; access to business and social media marketing 101’s that are often skipped over in school (whether that comes from non-profit and gallery workshops, small business advisors, etc). Potential buyers also need to be made more aware of what’s around them here- there is art almost everywhere you go in Seattle, but it’s often overlooked for a number of reasons. The Art Walks that take place in most Seattle neighborhoods are a wonderful resource to provide support.

How did you first get acquainted with Artist Trust?
I’ve been familiar with Artist Trust since I moved here in 2005. I have had several friends that have been a part of the organization over the years, and I have a lot of respect for the work you all do!

Why did you decide to support the Artist Trust Benefit Art Auction this year?
I’ve been wanting to support the Auction for some time and this year the timing felt right as we’re getting settled into our new location and feeling energized to do more outreach work!

As a small business owner, why do you think it’s important for businesses like yours to give back to the community?
It’s more important than ever to support our non-profit arts organizations however one can, whether it’s via donations, attending auctions, cross-promoting events – it takes a major team effort to keep art communities alive and thriving as we all know, and that includes small businesses chipping in however they can. It’s not always possible to do so monetarily, so also offering physical space to artists, portfolio reviews, artistic collaborations with other businesses in the city, resource sharing, the list goes on. I think when artists see that kind of action coming from small businesses, it helps them feel supported and realize that everyone’s in it together.

This spring, we’re focusing on the role of risk in artistic practice – and in day-to-day life! What’s a big risk you’ve taken and what support was necessary for you to take it?
The decision to open a gallery in the first place was a huge risk (Ghost’s first independent brick & mortar opened in 2010). I knew I was headed for very long hours, very little return and a lot of pressure, the whole shebang. I needed a supportive partner that also believed I could create something special for artists and designers to utilize and enjoy (and thankfully I have that partner:). I also needed to believe that the Seattle community wanted another arts-driven space, which it did/does. When the gallery relocated last summer that was another massive risk, facing more than double the costs, a constantly changing population (creating more unpredictability), fewer media outlets…but without risk there is no reward as they say- and my reward lies in seeing the gallery slowly grow and settle into its own skin, allowing me to develop a more sustainable work/life balance (not there yet:). The risk of burning out physically and financially is very real and needs to be acknowledged.

We know there are a lot of nonprofit organizations in Washington State worthy of support. Why do you think it’s important to support artists and what would you say to someone considering a gift to Artist Trust?
The Seattle art scene is large and it’s exciting, but it is struggling due to rising costs of living, lackluster development, a growing population that is more temporary and isn’t being given enough incentive to invest locally…Supporting artists breathes life, energy and character into the city. Artist Trust is a good choice because they tend to a vast network of artists working in every medium, and they branch out with their offerings to cover a lot of bases that artists need help with – so you can trust that the recipients of the support that Artist Trust provides is so very valuable.

Join Laurie in supporting Artist Trust by making a gift to our spring campaign today. Thank you for your support!