A paper art display in a window on Fourth Street, between Pacific Avenue and Washington Avenue, by Melissa Koch. Michelle Beahm / Kitsap News Group

Window art project shares ‘verve and excitement’ of downtown Bremerton

BREMERTON — Downtown Bremerton is home to a lot of businesses, from El Salvadoran food to books, fabrics to soap. But it is also home to a lot of empty storefronts with empty windows, and Carla Grahn and Marie Weichman are working together to give those windows a little more street appeal.

Spearheading the Art Windows Bremerton project, Grahn, a creative metalworking and welding teacher at Pratt Fine Arts, said they’re working with local artists to do exactly as the project name suggests: install art features in empty windows of Bremerton.

“The overall thing is really about, essentially, improving the quality of life aesthetically,” Grahn said. “It’s by putting art installations and art work temporarily in vacant windows, and engaging the community.”

Grahn said she’d been thinking of this project for a while before approaching Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent in November. Lent put Grahn in touch with Weichman, an art instructor at Olympic College, and the two of them began brainstorming how to make this work. They took their idea to the Bremerton Arts Commision, received stipends, and gathered volunteers — artists and other community members who have helped build portable walls. And, of course, working with building owners to get art in the windows.

“The word’s kind of been spreading,” Grahn said. “It’s a very live project. The spaces are continually changing. We’re always looking for spaces, always looking for more artists.”

The art can be found throughout downtown Bremerton, including a paper serpent on the corner of Pacific Avenue and Burwell Street, or a hanging display of bird nests on Fourth Avenue.

“I really want to do things that reflect and engage the community,” Grahn said. “I want to, at some point, have schools participate. I totally envision a window where some fabulous school project is shared.

“The other thing I want to really talk about … kind of get collections (to display). Say somebody has a collections of fabulous tea cups … or anything. I want to team up with them to share their collection, but install it in a very contemporary or artistic fashion.”

Grahn said she’s already spoken to someone with a quilt collection about getting an artistic display set up in a window.

“I’m trying to reflect older community members, younger students, artists,” Grahn said. “I’m trying to get a verve and excitement around sharing interesting things for the community.”

Each installation also includes a placard with information about the artist behind the work.

Grahn added that there’s a possibility of expansion of this project in the future.

“That’s what’s so fascinating and great about these projects,” she said. “They’re really really flexible. For small communities, large communities … we’re trying to expand out to Manette. Anybody who has space, and says, ‘Let’s bring some interesting art and attention and dialogue,’ we’re open to that. (We want to) let it evolve naturally, according to the sites that are available and the more people who hear about it and how they feel about it.”

Grahn said that artists who want to display their work in this project, or property owners with potential sites, should contact them through their website, www.artwindowsbremerton.com. To view images of their displays, visit facebook.com/artwindowsbremerton.

“We’re always looking for more sights and more artists,” Grahn said. “We want the community to sense the value in it, and get excited about it and support it and see it.”

Michelle Beahm is a reporter with the Kitsap News Group. She can be reached at mbeahm@soundpublishing.com.

A birds-nest sculpture display on Fourth Street, between Park Avenue and Pacific Avenue, by Carla Grahn. Michelle Beahm / Kitsap News Group

A birds-nest sculpture display on Fourth Street, between Park Avenue and Pacific Avenue, by Carla Grahn. Michelle Beahm / Kitsap News Group

A statue art display in a window on Fourth Street, between Pacific Avenue and Washington Avenue, by Steve Parmelee. Michelle Beahm / Kitsap News Group