A desire to promote art as a profession was the thought that fueled Isabella Valencia’s inspiration to start Black Lab Gallery, an events venue open to all ages. Black Lab Gallery is also a space where the artist is a partner and they are the center of the promotions.
To Valencia, however, promotion of the artist meant more than just in the sense of fame and popularity, but also the sense of creating sustainability within professional art. This desire was inspired by the goal to change the question individuals ask when they hear someone is an artist, from “what is your day job?” to “what is your medium and where is your workspace?”
As far as what Black Lab Gallery offers patrons in comparison to other galleries? Valencia says it seeks to “delight the patron with quality art.” After all, their slogan is “where the art doesn’t suck.”
Black Lab Gallery began in Seattle. When Valencia went on a hiatus, Black Lab took a break along with her, reappearing in Everett. Valencia's initial intention was to reopen in Seattle, however, in her eyes it had lost the potential it once had. She no longer felt that it had the diversity she craved.
“It had lost its soul as far as I was concerned,” said Valencia.
Seeking to bring Black Lab Gallery back, she went on a hunt for the right space. Everett, with its sculptures, theatres, and the Schack Art Center, all signaled to Valencia that this city cared for art and the artists within.
“Music and art are very conducive to really cool conversations,” says Valencia.
Events, such as those featured at Black Lab Gallery offer opportunities for community members who wouldn’t have otherwise come together. It offers that opportunity for what Valencia describes as an escape where people are together instead of opposing each other – “a pure love space.”
As a community, Valencia notes that we need to support small businesses in order to thrive.
“If we are aware, we can help mold the progress for arts and entertainment to thrive [in downtown Everett], because it’s already here,” said Valencia. “This place is prime for us to make a difference.”
Visit Black Lab Gallery at 1618 Hewitt Ave, Everett, WA 98201. A note to the artists: Valencia says, “we expect and encourage original work from all our arts.”
At Black Lab Gallery, it's all about the partnership with the artist. Performing artists get the full door during their events, 35% of the sales is all the Black Lab Gallery gets from the sale of pieces made by visual artists, and to literary artists, the space is provided free of charge. As for staffing during events, everyone working at the Black Lab Gallery is a contracted worker who doubles as an artist, making for a communal, symbiotic dependence.