After spending the last several years living in various locations around town, the Love City Love multi-use art venue and gallery will be opening its doors once again, but on Capitol Hill, this time housed in the hole in the wall space of 1406 E Pike street, the former home of Royal Cleaners laundromat.
For past two months, members of the art collective have been doing renovations. The changes are “nothing hardcore,” says Love City Love founder Lucien Pellegrin. They’re mainly just giving the space a fresh coat of paint and redoing the lighting.
What is different, however, is Love City Love’s in-the-thick-of-it proximity to Capitol Hill, one of the main exhibits in the gallery of Amazon-era change in Seattle. But Pellegrin — who founded Love City Love to give independent art and music a space to grow and thrive — isn’t looking for an all-out culture war with shiny high density housing or expensive new eateries, but rather, to continue the project’s mission of cultivating creative expression and community in an evolving city.
“The idea is a collaboration with gentrification or a collaboration with development. It’s how do we figure out a authentic way to coexist,” said Pellegrin. “The power of this location is we have a darn storefront in the middle of Pike.”
The nonprofit, all-ages venue’s programing has at its previous four locations — including Pike and Summit and a former Mexican restaurant in Eastlake — included open mic nights, LGBTQ poetry readings, birthday parties for local community leaders, live music performances, and art and food pop-up shows. The famous “Wednesday on Wednesdays” open mic night has featured jazz, hip-hop, and funk performances, where the audience is encouraged to participate in a two-way dynamic experience. The hope is for the open mic sessions to return by the end of January.
“The idea with Love City Love was leave your ego at the door. Just come and do a dorky dance or get on the mic and cry because you haven’t gotten on the mic in a while,” Pellegrin said. “It’s accessible, it’s challenging. It’s a place to come and confront yourself and get outside your comfort zone.”
Pellegrin, like some other local artists, says Seattle’s art scene has been sidelined in recent years, and that there aren’t many nightlife options in the area aside from the bars lining the Pike/Pine core (Capitol Hill’s Electric Tea Garden, for example, is still offline while it looks for a new home). “I see a void … there isn’t really a healthy nightlife alternative. It would be great to curate a nightlife culture where it’s a little more balanced. Where the artists, women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, can feel a little more space, feel a little more included.”
The new E Pike space will continue its wide variety of programming — with some new elements like Mystic Kombucha on tap. There will also be a small retail space for local artists to share and sell their work, depending on the programming on a given day.
After discovering some structural issues (i.e a leaky roof) at their last home at 7th and Cherry and knowing the building was eventually slated for demolition, Pellegrin and the seven other core Love City Love “co-creators” went looking back in September for new real estate and ended up approaching the owners of the Pike location asking them if they’d like to rent it out as a performance and gallery space.
“We didn’t even have to sell it. They were super stoked,” Pellegrin said of the owners of the building, Northwest Real Estate Capital, who apparently are giving Love City Love a “absurdly” good rent rate in exchange for Pellegrin and his team handling the renovations and resulting costs. While there are no permits yet on record for any construction at the site, it’s expected the block will eventually be redeveloped.
The official reopening of Love City Love isn’t slated until January of next year, but the space will be holding a series of soft openings throughout December, like the Holiday Market planned for this Saturday, where local textile and jewelry designers will be selling their wares. Next week, the Wednesday on Wednesdays will start up again in the new space. For the dates of more December events and the official opening, Pellegrin says “stay tuned.”
The venue has also set up an Indiegogo campaign to try and cover the renovations and first few months of operating costs as the project gets back up on its feet. They’ve raised a little over $5,000 so far.
The new Love City Love is located at 1406 E Pike. You can learn more at facebook.com/lovecityloveseattle/.