Photo by AJ Dent: Ghost Gallery is at 504 E. Denny Way, next to Pac-Man Arcade Park.
Photo by AJ Dent: Ghost Gallery is at 504 E. Denny Way, next to Pac-Man Arcade Park.

While tales of local business closures abound, not every story has a sad ending.

Laurie Kearney, founder and curator of Ghost Gallery, recently received notice regarding the shop’s current location. Like a well-protected treasure chest, the gallery is tucked beside Hillcrest Market and the Pac-Man Arcade Park near East Olive and East Denny Way.

After establishing Ghost Gallery in 2006, Kearney opened the brick-and-mortar shop in 2010, and has been hosting eclectic and fine art exhibits ever since.

Due to city coding updates and the building owners’ financial prospects, the spot is now set to be turned into new apartments.

Rather than calling it quits, Kearney is already working on the gallery’s next incarnation, researching new potential places for the business to reside. 

With a move-out date of Jan. 31, she is also making the most of her remaining time at the current location. The 11th annual Holiday Mini Art Exhibit is open through the holidays.

Kearney provided CHT with insight on Ghost Gallery’s past, present and future.

If Ghost Gallery was a movie, what genre would it be?

We’d sit in the vicinity of a modern adaptation of a vintage Italian-era film.

What was a defining moment for you involving Ghost Gallery?

Our mission has always been to make the gallery environment more welcoming, less intimidating, creating a hybrid space of visual art and handmade goods (which are also little works of art). Something that really struck me recently was when we started archiving all of the exhibits that have taken place here since 2010 (over 90) — the sheer number of artists and designers I’ve gotten to work with over the years is truly humbling (500+).

Seeing and appreciating those numbers absolutely falls within my vision of creating opportunities for artists and patrons alike; being a conduit and never once forgetting that the gallery wouldn’t be here without the artists, and the arts thrive when patrons are able to access it with ease.

How do you think Seattle-based artists and/or business owners can remain positive/productive in the face of so much change and redevelopment?

Well, many of us are certainly feeling that stress and pinch in different ways, beyond physical spaces being taken out of our reach and replaced with more corporate companies or, in the gallery’s case, an extremely expensive apartment. I struggle with these changes alongside many of my neighbors, and we lean on each other quite a bit which I’m grateful for.

It should be noted here that obviously there are different issues playing out for different businesses. For instance, we’re not a bar, so we don’t have to deal with the overwhelming late-night crowds and the problems that often come along with those. I wouldn’t dare presume to know how best to stay positive in those situations over and over again, and the respect I have for those that do is unending.

So while we can really only speak for ourselves and what we’re able to handle individually — I do believe that what helps one stay positive during rough changes is to see the negative for what it is, not be naive, and decide how you want your fight to stay present within the community to play out.

It takes a village, especially now, and it unfortunately doesn’t always work out, but we can be less afraid to lean on one another and more willing to be inclusive, collaborate where it makes sense to, and celebrate the wins together.

Do you hope for Ghost Gallery to remain on Capitol Hill, or are you looking at other neighborhoods as well? When do you aim to reopen? 

I do, yes — I’ve lived and worked in Capitol Hill for over twelve years, so it’s hard to imagine Ghost being in a different neighborhood. I’m also closely involved with the Capitol Hill Art Walk (a coordinator along with Jeanine Anderson), and we’re committed to growing that program. So being able to stay located in Capitol Hill would be ideal for both projects! A timeline for reopening is still being worked out, but we’ll of course keep everyone apprised. We have a pretty developed online presence, so people can easily find us even if there’s some time between physical spaces.

What upcoming events are on the roster for Ghost Gallery’s current location?

We’re currently showing our 11th annual Holiday Mini Art Exhibit through the first week of January — this really fun show features 100 local and national artists, with over 300 affordable works of art.

We also do wine tastings every other Tuesday evening from 5-7 p.m.

Then in January, we’ll be hosting another group exhibit of local artists that I’ve worked with over the years, to celebrate the 7.5-year run in this location.

What are some ways the local arts community can support you and Ghost Gallery through this transition? 

I’ve been receiving really encouraging messages and face-to-face support from the community since the announcement, which has been amazing. (Thank you!) We’d love for people to continue to visit us at this location throughout the holidays and January, to support the artists and designers showcased here, share with us what your favorite exhibits were and what you’d like to see in the next phase.

There’ll be some pop-up events, big sales, and a friends and family gathering to celebrate the space in January. It also helps to spread the word that we’re sticking around, and to stay posted as the next phase of Ghost develops!

Ghost Gallery is at 504 E. Denny Way. The 11th annual Holiday Mini Art Exhibit runs until Jan. 7.