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Capitol Hill arts group launches ‘phone book’ with over 500 local artists

Carolyn Hitt’s high school years are far behind her. And yet she cannot wait to get her yearbook signed this Tuesday. This time around, though, it is actually her yearbook. As in: she’s created it. In it are not her classmates, but over 500 black-and-white headshots and social media handles of Seattle artists, chefs, curators and creatives from all mediums. The book, a creative “phone book” for the city will be officially released this Tuesday during The Relevant Unknowns: 2018 Yearbook Release Party at Fred Wildlife Refuge (Free, 21+).

“My goal is to connect artists in the city,” Hitt said. “There are so many pockets of communities. Those pockets make us insular. How do we connect beyond that?”

A Blue Cone photo session. Smile! (Image: Blue Cone Studios)

She says the book– 200 copies have been pre-sold — is a way to connect beyond artist cliques. “To see a picture and be like: I know that person! I didn’t know they did that,” she explains. “This guide can be a way for folks to reach out to collaborate on projects, do community organizing, share resources. Essentially, to get more artists to make more work. That’s what I’ve always tried to do.”

Hitt, who’s lived on the Hill for ten years off and on, has been doing this for three years as the founder of Blue Cone Studios. The 11th Ave organization behind the yearbook is comprised of a coalition of artists-creatives on the Hill who work in and convene at the eponymous studios near Queer/Bar for weekly gatherings during Capitol Hill Art Walk as well as open studios on Tuesdays.

For the past three months during those “Tuesday Tea” evenings, artists were invited to come get their photo taken by Blue Cone member Mike Perkins. Blue Cone also set up studios on Capitol Hill and in Pioneer Square during events to attract more people. In total, 514 artists showed up and a few sent their photos in.

The book release party, Tuesday December 11th coincides with the Capitol Hill Community Council’s yearly open house. Hosted by Fred Wildlife Refuge, the celebration will feature food by Sizzle Pie and Cupcake Royal, as well as tattoo stations, a mini-market with clothing and merchandise plus performances by contemporary jazz project 3rd Shift Dance with Whitney Mongé, rock band Bad Saint and rappers B. Rocket Tha Prophet and Son the Rhemic. Hitt plans to post up “buckets” of silver pens to make sure people sign each other’s yearbooks. 80 books will be available for sale that night. Patrons can either buy one for $50 or two — with one donated to an artist who can’t afford it — for $75.

“We don’t want these artists to just be in the book, we want them to be able to own one,” says Hitt. “A lot of people coming in to Blue Cone are in economically precarious situations, nearly —or in some cases actually— homeless. Those are the folks that are not represented. The ‘relevant unknowns.’ These are the people who’ve never gotten a grant, never did a big gallery show, are just slugging away making art, uplifting other people, and nobody ever knows. With this book, I wanted to give them a little more representation.”

That’s why she wanted to print a book, not post a website.

“This book is a historical document of what’s going on right now in our creative community,” she said. “Everything is on the internet. That information can get lost easily.” She hopes to keep publishing an ever-expanding yearbook for the next four years. “When done, it’ll be an overview of Seattle artists in this particular time period. Something that encapsulates the creative history of the neighborhood and the city.”

The Relevant Unknowns: 2018 Yearbook Release Party, December 11 at Fred Wildlife Refuge. More info here.

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