Ballard Works

BallardWorks was founded in 2003 by Dionne Haroutunian, Jay Lazerwitz, Joan Stuart Ross, and John Gleason, to create a long-lasting, secure building for artist work spaces. What started as a new home for the Sev Shoon Arts Center (1991-2012), also includes Art & Soul (art reproduction and printing), Spark Studio and eighteen individual artists' studios.

BallardWorks-  Working for Artists
© Art Access Feb. 2004

The three biggest challenges facing any artist at almost every age are finding the requisite time, space and money to make their art. Now, more than ever, these challenges command artists’ attention during an age of minimal funding, rising costs, and slow sales. What to do? Be creative.

Front of BallardWorks
   BallardWorks located on NW Market in Ballard

Four artists recently met such challenges with a creative and ambitious undertaking called “BallardWorks” due to officially open on February 13, 2004. Dionne Haroutunian, Jay Lazerwitz, Joan Stuart Ross, and John Gleason decided over dinner in early 2003 to find solutions to their respective studio space woes. They were weary of not having more control over their studio needs and decided that it was time to take the proverbial bull by the horns.
Haroutunian, Lazerwitz, Ross, and Gleason pooled their financial, emotional and physical resources in order to initiate changes for themselves and other creative people. This “pooling” afforded them the opportunity to purchase a spacious but dark and outmoded building located on Market Street in Ballard. Similar artist enclaves have evolved in the Seattle area throughout the years; these include Sunny Arms, Union Arts, and Westworks. However, the entity of BallardWorks is unique in several ways.

BallardWorks under transformation
    BallardWorks Before!

The 14,200 square foot building was constructed in the mid -1960s and housed a lapidary equipment manufacturing company called Lortone, Incorporated. Having viewed the building back in April, I was astonished to see in December ‘03 the results of intense rehab efforts. The refurbished building — complete with a new beautiful and contemporary facade and a kitchen — is divided into 21 gleaming white spaces of varying sizes (ranging from 162 sq. ft to 1890 sq. ft) and shapes. It houses 19 individual artist studios and two art-related businesses, including the Sev Shoon Arts Center (printmaking studio) that was located on Ballard Avenue since its inception 13 years ago.


The intent and vision of BallardWorks clearly distinguishes it from other art studio rental properties. The founders are taking steps to insure a focus that features outreach, partnerships between artists and organizations, community-based endeavors, interaction, and special events.

The BallardWorks team
John Gleason, Joan Stuart Ross, Dionne Haroutunian, and Jay Lazerwitz at demolished BallardWorks building

Indeed, BallardWorks is envisioned as an art destination for art patrons, students, other artists as well as the general public. Haroutunian and Ross are currently making plans to set aside space within the building for changing exhibitions organized by guest curators. The new BallardWorks brochure states that: “It has facilities for exhibitions, literary, visual and performing arts events, and celebratory activities. There are opportunities for artists to create and take classes at the Sev Shoon Arts Center and at private individual studios. BallardWorks is committed to community outreach and involvement in all the arts.”

Other plans also include a burgeoning Artist-In-Residence program that will be partially programmed by the Sev Shoon Arts Center. Sev Shoon has more than doubled its space with this move, and will now provide a dark room and other opportunities for those interested in a multi-media experience. Sev Shoon has had a long history of innovative programs under the direction of owner Dionne Haroutunian since its beginning in 1991, and has maintained aspects of a personal touch along the way. A recent article about the center states: “Drawing on her Armenian heritage, Dionne named the center ‘Sev Shoon’ which translates as ‘Black Dog,’ the nickname of one of her favorite ‘adopted’ uncles; she figured it would be good luck, and it has been.”

Call it luck or just plain hard work, Sev Shoon has partnered with the King County Arts Commission (now called the Cultural Development Authority) and Daniel Smith (to name a few) in bringing innovative outreach and interactive programs to Seattle thanks to the help of a core team of volunteers. Guest printmakers such as Erik Desmazieres, Joe Feddersen, and Laurent Scholnyk have shared their printmaking techniques during the numerous workshops that Sev Shoon has traditionally hosted.

Artists currently renting studios at BallardWorks are: Rosemary Sylvanus Antel, Jennifer dela Cruz, David French, John Gleason, Dionne Haroutunian, David Owen Hastings, Diane Huff, Donald Immerwahr, Amanda Knowles, Lisa Snow Lady, Mona J. Lang, Jay Lazerwitz, Gene McVarish, Nancy Mednick, Mechel Miller, Barbara Quinn, Joan Stuart Ross, Paula Sweet, and Kathryn “Kappy” Trigg.

Skeletal structure
Jay Lazerwitz, Dionne Haroutunian, and Don Bugler with metal studs on the third floor of BallardWorks
These established and emerging artists include: painters, printmakers, glass artists, sculptors, and photographers, and open their studios for the Grand Opening celebration on Friday, February 13th beginning at 6 P. M. The art-related commercial establishments of BallardWorks: Emerald City Portraits, Elizabeth Gadbois Photography, and Sev Shoon Arts Center also are open. The special opening event features music, refreshments, open studios, artworks, poetry readings and art performances. Call: (206) 784-9987 for more information. BallardWorks is located at 2856 NW Market Street, Seattle, WA 98107.

Cheryl H. Hahn

Hahn is an artist and writer who maintains her studio in Allyn, WA.

© Art Access


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