The light studio space being used in Market Studios. There is also a darkroom in the back. A Ballardite is looking for interested artists to sign onto a lease and save the space.
Attempting to revive interest in local darkroom, artist collective
Hidden within the old warehouse building on NW Market St and 28th Ave NW is a treasure that is growing more and more rare these days: a multipurpose space with a light studio and darkroom for photographers. It's called Market Studios.
But now, Market Studios has fallen on hard times. Money has grown tight and interest in it has started to wane -- people have either grown busy, moved or couldn’t afford rent for one reason or another. Time is running out fast for the space; it could be gone as early as next month.
Sam Meakin (you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org), a photographer who has lived in Ballard more on than off for about 20 years, said he is looking for about eight to 10 interested people to sign on to a three-month lease. Tenants don't have to be photographers, and the main room can be used for a variety of other purposes: videography, music, painting, what have you.
In a best-case scenario, having enough people would save the space and create a collective of artists. Meakin pondered the possibilities -- like having a gallery and being involved in the Ballard ArtWalk -- but so far, without people, pondering is only theoretical.
Meakin said that rent would come out to as little as $100 per person, depending on how many people sign on. The darkroom is already all setup, but people would need to be responsible for their own chemicals, gloves, tongs and such -- though he said the price of those items are pretty cheap.
But, Meakin assured jokingly, “We’re set on sidewalk chalk.”
The age of the darkroom is unknown. The artist collective Market Studios was started three years ago by Monica Frisell, who is the daughter of a Ballard musician and who got Meakin involved.
But Meakin said it looked like the darkroom has a history. He wrote to us, "The sink appears to be the main legacy of a previous darkroom under mysterious ownership. There was a loft full of random abandoned objects up above the darkroom, including a book on American Indian tribes by Edward R. Curtis published in 1915, and a cocktail book published immediately after prohibition ended. There was also a variety of abandoned paintings and prints from tenants spreading over about 25 years based on some proofs of sale from the mid 80s."
The darkroom is also a sign of another time. These days, where film photography is going the way of the dodo, having one is a luxury growing increasingly rare. It makes this particular space all the more important.
Still, for some, black and white film photography provides a unique, more creative outlet. Many say it’s a superior form, though Meakin was hesitant to completely dismiss the revolutions digital has brought.
“Black and white photography allows you to learn about photography in a different way than digital. When you’re shooting digital, you can shoot shot after shot after shot. (B+W) allows you to think,” Meakin said, noting that a film photo needs to be thought out more before the button is clicked. “When you have a final, physical image, it’s done. That's it.”
Meakin continued, “There’s something to be said for 'slow.' If we could teleport, what’s the point of going on adventures and traveling? You know how they say a journey isn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey; I think practicing film is like that.”
For more info or if you are interested in participating in the space, contact Sam Meakin at email@example.com
You can also visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MarketStudios/ or their Tumblr at http://marketstudios.tumblr.com/
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