Vacant downtown storefronts now covered in art

Published on Thu, Jul 3, 2003 by Rebecca Schwarz Kopf

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Vacant downtown storefronts now covered in art

By Rebecca Schwarz Kopf

In an effort to showcase the work of local artists and make downtown more attractive, artist Donna-Lee Elke is spearheading a project that has transformed vacant storefronts into seasonal galleries.

Elke, with the help of other artists and residents, convinced owners of three Peace Portal Drive buildings to fill their windows with art for the summer months.

�There are about 10 artists involved in this,� she said, adding more than half are from Blaine and Birch Bay. �The art will remain throughout the summer.�

Elke, with the help of local artists and Blaine high school art teacher Brian Smith, began posting artwork and photographs in the vacant storefronts two weeks ago. The art, which is for sale, can be seen at 633, 665 and 685 Peace Portal Drive.

Blaine resident and city council member Bruce Wolf recently bought the building at 633 Peace Portal Drive, the former site of Memories Antiques and Collectibles, and said the project is beneficial to downtown Blaine. �It�s really wonderful what�s happening there and I encourage everyone to see it (the artwork),� he said at a recent council meeting. Blaine city manager Gary Tomsic agreed, saying the project helps to make downtown more attractive. �Everyone who has been actively involved in downtown revitalization will tell you that the first task is to make your downtown look attractive. Empty storefronts and poorly maintained properties are like missing teeth in our community�s smile,� he said. �The art project has helped improve the appearance of the dowtown significantly. In the end, these type of efforts will also improve the marketability of the properties and hopefully get them occupied. I appreciate the work that Donna-Lee Elke and her artist friends have put into this project.�

Information about the artwork and artists is available at the art store on Peace Portal Drive.

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