John Boylan’s Next Conversation: “Creating Outlaw Space, Part Three”

Event Date: Tuesday, October 20, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Admission is free. Tell your friends.

Location: Vermillion, an art gallery, bar, and neighborhood gathering place at 1508 11th Ave, Seattle

The Summary

This time we’re looking at outlaw space: what it is, how to find it, and most important, how to make it. Read on for details.

The Guests (see bios below)

Janet Galore, designer, artist, creative director

Michelle de la Vega, multidisciplinary artist

Sam Farrazaino, sculptor, space creator

Jessa Carter, designer, artist, creative director

And I’m seeking a fifth…

The Story

There’s been a lot of anger and frustration lately about a rapidly and radically changing Seattle, captured in a common vision of brogrammers invading Capitol Hill. I’m thinking that this anger and frustration doesn’t just have to do with rising rents; it’s also very much about the death of outlaw space.

I’m taking the term from Stewart Brand, the founder of the Whole Earth Catalog in the 1960s (which later begat Wired Magazine, among other things). For Brand, his “outlaw areas” could be hippie communes, space colonies, cyberspace, psychedelic experiences, or even just cheap, ragtag neighborhoods, as places where new ideas emerge. For me it’s any place that fosters escape from the miasma of everyday culture, straight culture, plastic culture; mainstream white culture. Or maybe better, it’s a place that fosters subversion of—or building on—those cultures, rather than just escape. It’s a place for creativity, and some degree of wildness, and maybe even just the ability to stop, to get off the treadmill, to hide out, to stop dealing with stuff. And ideally, it’s a place of support and generosity.

In the movies, outlaw space shows up everywhere, as a pirate’s lair, a remote hole in the wall, a hidden village, or a distant city of Amazons. For some of us, finding real outlaw space means going off to the woods, or hunkering down in a crowded city. It may be as simple as fighting to hang onto a block of small shops with roots going back decades.

There’s something energizing about having a blacksmith shop next to a dance studio next to a print shop next to a library next to a tavern that serves cheap drinks and features crusty old men at the bar, old men with stories, lots of stories. Things happen. Synergies arise.

As neighborhoods are leveled to produce huge soulless apartment buildings, it may seem as though outlaw space can’t exist. Or perhaps outlaw space happens at the level of what goes on in a living room or an empty lot, the little worlds we build for each other.

I go back to Brand’s sense that psychedelic experience could be an outlaw area. Not that we all should be dropping little tabs of Owsley Acid, but it may be that the only outlaw spaces that we can really depend on are in our heads. Or maybe not. Come and talk about it.

The Guests in Detail

Sam Farrazaino is a sculptor with a history of creating artist spaces around Seattle. Since 2006 he has been the founder and proprietor of Equinox Studios. Equinox houses 42 art studios and fabrication shops under the rubric “Fine & Heavy, Arts & Artisans.” The project has recently expanded into adjacent industrial buildings, which are currently under reconstruction as more studios and workspaces.

Michelle de la Vega’s work as a multidisciplinary artist includes installation, sculpture and mixed media. Her visual art practice spans 23 years and an 18-year career as a dance and performance artist.

Michelle’s interest is in creating immersive environments that connect communities, illuminate voices and explore concepts that are personally and collectively relevant to the human experience. Her process draws meaningful connections through community engagement, research, and artistic vision, weaving image, information, and story into holistic, genuine artwork.

Michelle has received international exposure through her design and build of a 250 sq. ft. mini-house and she is a passionate advocate of the small living movement.

She received her education from Otis Parsons in Los Angeles, CA, Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, WA, and The South Seattle Community College Welding and Metal Fabrication Program.

Janet Galore was born and raised in Seattle. She is a veteran designer, artist, and creative director working in emerging technologies and applications. She enjoys pushing creative and technical boundaries, and supporting others in their creative endeavors. She’s known for her work in video games and VR, as animator and director of the surreal cult-classic series FishBar, as a curator, and as author and contributor to several books on animation and streaming media. She received a BS degree in pure mathematics from the University of Washington, and continued there with three years of graduate studies in pure and applied mathematics.

Jessa Carter’s educational and practical background is in graphics and design. She has consistently applied her skills and experience to the fashion world; working in trend forecasting for Nordstrom and as a creative director, brand strategist, photographer, and more with independent clients on the West Coast. She’s also applied her knowledge to the Seattle art and culture scene as a key member of the LoveCityLove Collective, a collaborative arts platform that focuses on public works, rebuilding community, and reviving spaces slated for development. She is currently exploring short video as a medium and a method.


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