Blaine’s Loomis Hall has housed everything from a family hardware store and basketball court to an opera house in its century-old history.
Soon it will provide yet another venue for the community: a space for offices, studios and a student art gallery.
The newly renovated building on Martin Street will exhibit Blaine high school student’s art on the Fourth of July as part of the hall’s soft opening. Loomis Hall began renovations in 1998 and Independence Day weekend offers the community a sneak peak into what this building has to offer.
The soft opening is a joint effort among Loomis Hall owner David Vargo, gallery director Barbara Wean and Blaine art teacher Brian Smith. Vargo said his vision of the hall is focused on public involvement and displaying student art was the perfect way to showcase that dedication.
“So many people who have lived here their entire lives have never been inside this building,” Vargo said.
“Renovating it and opening it up to the public was about giving back to the neighborhood I live in.”
The opening will feature an auction of selected student works. City manager Gary Tomsic will act as auctioneer. Proceeds will benefit the Fine Arts Association and provide students with first-hand experience on how an art gallery operates. Sidewalk chalk activities will go on throughout the day directly outside the building for children of all ages.
Wean said the students have been preparing their artwork for months and some will be presenting their senior projects during the exhibit. One student will be submitting ideas and drawings for a mural to be painted on the backside of the building, Wean said.
In the months to come, Wean said she hopes Loomis Hall will act as a creative and cultural mecca for the city of Blaine. She said she wants the art gallery, which will display new art exhibits every month, to plant a seed in the community to revitalize the area.
Taking her Bachelor of Art degree in Creativity from Fairhaven College, Wean wants to apply her knowledge and energy to the people of Blaine and Whatcom County. She said the gallery is intended to pull people inside with its fresh and continuously-changing art exhibits.
“We’re not looking at this space as our space,” Wean said. “We’re looking at it as the community’s space. It will be something different for Blaine.”
So what’s so cool about this round of renovations at Loomis Hall? Vargo said it is the unique interior space the new building boasts.
The building was remodeled using recycled materials around Bellingham and reused support beams from the original Loomis Hall structure. Inside, the atmosphere maintains an edgy, rustic feel. Frosted-glass doors and copper countertops help keep that balance.
The 16,618 square-foot building has three main floors. The first and second floors were designed for business suites and offices. Eleven different offices are available for local business owners, international firms and young entrepreneurs. The top floor will house artist lofts where artists will be able to practice, create, market and sell their work. Wean said she hopes to attract everyone from jewelry makers and sculptors to pastel artists and dancers to rent the spaces.
She said the Loomis Hall gallery will act as a heart for Blaine and give a new pulse to the city. The grand opening of the art gallery is planned for September 26, 2009.
“It’s not going to take just us. It’s going to take the whole town supporting us to make this work,” Wean said.
Activities for the Loomis Hall soft opening will be going on throughout the day on Saturday, July 4 with the sidewalk chalk competition scheduled for noon and the art auction beginning at 4 p.m.
For more information, contact Barbara Wean at 360/961-0637.