West Seattle Art Walk goes virtual for April, artists navigate online sales

SEATTLE -- Washington's "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order, signed by Gov. Jay Inslee late March, shuttered businesses and abruptly cancelled in-person events statewide -- but some are getting creative with going virtual in order to persevere.

Art-goers typically navigate the West Seattle Art Walk on foot, but this month they observed and shopped for locally-made art using their web browser.

A blog post served as a main gallery for showcasing pieces, with the aid of various social media platforms.

Reeve Washburn, who's the coordinator of West Seattle Art Walk, said, given the circumstances, it was a success.

"It was really important to us, the businesses and the artists to have that art walk," Washburn said. "It was just so well received by the artists; they were so pleased to still have the opportunity to show their work, and they were willing to roll with us."

Washburn said organizers even decided to widen the breadth of who could participate by lessening the typical requirements, allowing some artists a new opportunity for exposure of their work.

For some established Seattle artists like Loren Lukens, the coronavirus pandemic has been especially onerous.

Lukens is a ceramic artist and owner of Brace Point Pottery in West Seattle's Arbor Heights area. He's been selling his work for decades and relies on sales as a primary source of income.

"I had orders I was working on for galleries that had placed orders for spring," Lukens said. "I was supposed to ship , and all of those galleries have cancelled."

He participated in this week's virtual art walk but said face-to-face interactions and tactility are important parts of the process.

However, speaking anecdotally, Lukens believes it may have been because of interactions within his gallery that he contracted COVID-19.

While continuing to recover, he's now working to keep his business alive.

"It's time for me to do an online presence," Lukens said. "I think this is going to be a real demarcation line in my career."

If you would like to support or view the work of the 42 artists who participated in the virtual art walk, click here. All of the art is for sale.