Vulcan Inc. has announced that it plans a nontraditional art institution, to be called Pivot Art + Culture, on the ground floor of the Allen Institute for Brain Science in South Lake Union.
In December, when a major scientific institution opens in South Lake Union, it will include some space for art, too.
Vulcan Inc. announced Friday that part of the ground floor of the Allen Institute for Brain Science’s new building will be home to a nonprofit arts institution, called Pivot Art + Culture, that will be free and open to the public.
Pivot’s mission to provide a variety of art forms in an accessible space is another step in Vulcan founder Paul Allen’s involvement in the city’s arts scene. (Vulcan is a major sponsor of the Seattle Art Fair, to be July 31-Aug. 2 at the CenturyLink Field Events Center). Allen is an avid patron of fine art whose personal collection includes works ranging from J.M.W. Turner to Monet.
“We’re looking at breaking down as many barriers between genres, and between artistic silos, and between audiences and the public for art, as we possibly can,” said Ben Heywood, the gallery’s director.
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The two-room gallery will occupy a 4,000-square-foot space fronting Westlake Avenue North. This corner of the new 270,000-square-foot building at Westlake and Mercer Street is clad in the 1920s terra-cotta facade saved from the building that formerly stood on the site.
Pivot Art + Culture will feature “all aspects of contemporary art,” from paintings and sculpture to film, and potentially performance, said Heywood.
“We’re very, very keen to have projects and exhibitions in the space that have a broad popular appeal, that are also conceptually rigorous,” he added.
Heywood is still planning the first exhibition and couldn’t say what it will be. However, Vulcan’s director of art collections, Mary Ann Prior, said she hoped it will “include a sample of works” from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection.
Heywood previously served as the director of the nonprofit venue The Soap Factory in Minneapolis, where he programmed similarly nontraditional fare. His goal is to bring in new and never-before-seen works from national and international private and public collections.
When asked, Prior acknowledged there’s a perception that the art and tech communities don’t mix. She noted that the Allen Institute’s focus on brain-science research could make it possible to include some programming that explores the “marriage between art and science.”
“We want this to be accessible to everyone,” she said. “It’s very important to us, it’s very important to Paul Allen that a maximum number of people get to see that art that we have on [display], and we will program to make sure that it has interest for people from a biomed or tech background.”
The gallery targets a fast-growing part of the city that has only about a fourth of the art galleries of an area like Pioneer Square. It may take time, said Prior, but she thinks the gallery will inspire other cultural venues to move to South Lake Union.
“You can have cultural pockets in all areas in major cities, so I think it’s great; the more the merrier,” she said.