From Full Classes to Empty Bowls, Moshier Art Center Continues Creating Art Opportunities in Burien

A beloved and long-standing institution, the Moshier Art Center has provided affordable studio spaces and classes to the Highline community for decades.

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A beloved and long-standing institution, the Moshier Art Center has provided affordable studio spaces and classes to the Highline community for decades. Like other arts spaces, during the pandemic they had to pivot toward offering virtual programs.

“We were surprised at the positive response,” said Gina Kallman, Cultural Arts Supervisor for the City of Burien’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Division (PaRCS). “Our virtual programs attracted students from around the country (including one student joining from Norway!). It also kept our instructors teaching, as so many of them had lost their other sources of income.”

During the pandemic, the City continued to partner with Arts Corps, a youth arts education organization, to operate an artist-in-residence program at local elementary schools. Instead of offering in-person activities, they switched to providing virtual classes and art kits.

In-person programs and events return slowly

Once the Moshier Art Center could open safely last fall, they began offering in-person classes again, but this time with fewer students, spaced far apart, and with windows open.

“We thought we were going to have to rebuild those programs,” recalled Kallman. “But we were pleasantly surprised. People were eager to come back.”

And it wasn’t just former students, many of whom were older adults and retired, who came back. Younger people began to show a lot more interest in the programs. Evening classes became very popular, with some of them even requiring waitlists.

The facility had to close again in January in response to the rise in cases of COVID-19 due to the omicron variant of the virus. Classes began again in late February. New programs are on the horizon, including a new teen pottery wheel program. Drawing, sculpture, and painting classes will also return.

Hand selects pottery on table.
Bowls made at the Moshier Art Center are sold at the annual Empty Bowls event, a fundraiser for local food banks. Credit: Amanda Snyder/City of Burien.

The Empty Bowls fundraiser for local food banks relies on pottery made by Moshier Art Center students. In March 2022, the fundraiser was held in person for the first time since the pandemic started. PaRCS hopes to bring back the popular pottery sale in May 2022.

Older building requires improvements

The 1960s-era building is beginning to show signs of its age. It is undergoing an energy audit to evaluate potential future investments into an HVAC system, lighting, and windows. The parking lot was renovated as part of a larger stormwater upgrade project.

Moshier Art Center sign and view of exterior.
Moshier Art Center is located at 430 S 156th St. Credit: Amanda Snyder/City of Burien.
Emily Inlow-Hood
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