Lindsey Treffry | The Communicator
The Art Coop is a warm space with art spilling from the shelves, and a cloud-painted ceiling. A wall is covered with old board games, and a kiln and glass-cutter sit across the room.
Once a chicken coop in the Downriver district, the Coop started as a Washington State farm “testing ground” in the 1930s and his since evolved into a home for wacky art classes.
SFCC graduate, Lou Carver is the owner of The Art Coop. With the help of friends, Carver spent a year and a half renovating the chicken coop.They lead visitors from the front of a brick house into a welcoming backyard by building a false wall that was once made of chicken wire, adding insulation, electricity, and a wooden pathway. Her cat and beagle welcome you into her yard and a fake rooster perches in the rafters of the Coop.
Carver received her A.A.S. in Visual Media Technology, which involved photography, hand-lettering, and printing press work. According to Carver, this multimedia major didn’t mean she was necessarily proficient in one art form, but was able to enjoy “fine” art. The Art Coop was able to support her eclectic fine art habits, but also gave her the ability to share.
“If you don’t share what you learn, the knowledge dies,” Carver said.
The Art Coop has compartments of charms, glass, metal, and miscellaneous pieces that have been collected by Carver over the years. Most of these pieces are for reuse, and instead of recycling these pieces, Carver likes to call this process “upcycling,” converting waste into new, better art products.
According to Carver, the most popular craft projects between class-takers is fused-glass. According to fusedglass.org, to make fused glass you take two or more pieces of glass and heat them in a kiln until they fuse together to make a single piece. These form a dichroic piece that according to Carver come out in unpredictable colors.
She offers multiple classes a week, from jewelry, to mosaic work, hats, pins, felting, and shrine boxes. Prices per class usually range from $25 to $40; all materials are provided and no experience is needed. Unless the Coop is featuring a fused-glass class, students can usually take projects home the same day.
Although she advertises her Coop as art classes for “chicks,” according to Carver, a rooster is a chick too and men return to her classes often.
“[The Art Coop] is a shabby, chic place to just have fun,” Carver said. “You don’t have to be an artist.”
Break Out Box
Address: 4225 N. G Street
Info: Visit theartcoop.net
Other Facts: Apart from the Coop, Carver teaches one hour “Spokane Falls Living History” presentations, where she shares photographs of Spokane from 1880 to 1910, along with board games, clothing of the era, music players, and common household items.
As seen in issue 42.5 of The Communicator