When a city is going through a transition period, a time of hardship or renewal, there’s bound to be a few buildings left in limbo before they become useful once again. But boarded up windows and empty spaces can make neighborhoods feel lifeless. Transient art gallery The Free Sheep Foundation is helping to reinvent these dead spaces into something beautiful, even if just for a fleeting moment.
Free Sheep partners with developers, government agencies, architects and other art organizations to identify spaces that are, or will soon be in a state of disuse. Then they bring in a variety of artists who work to fill the display windows, sidewalks, walls, floors and ceilings with art. They use any and all of the building as studio, exhibition or performance space for local artists.
Until Dec. 31, The Free Sheep Foundation was occupying a derelict building in Belltown on the corner of 3rd and Battery. The space included five artists' studios, a gallery/performance space and four storefront windows for exhibition. In this video, the co-founders of Free Sheep walk you through a few examples of what they do and why:
Free Sheep will soon take over another building slated for demolition in the University District. The Tubs building on the corner of 50th and Roosevelt was once a spa, and will soon be something new. But in the interim, it will be a space for art.
Why it’s Worldchanging
Co-founder NKO Rey recently told the Seattle Times that he and performance artist D.K. Pan started Free Sheep to “create a space where artists could explore work that wouldn’t fit in a gallery,” work that stands a part for its dedication to experimentation and playfulness. In addition to giving local artists much needed space to work in and express themselves, The Free Sheep Foundation helps our city move through its transitional moments with the same sense of freedom and innovation. The buildings they inhabit and the art they create there become a memoir to what was and a celebration for what is to come.
Buildings in transition can be a depressing eyesore for the neighborhood, creating dead zones that decrease safety and walkability. Free Sheep offers these place purpose in their purgatory, creating a place for local artists, lacking funds but not creativity, to express themselves and for local people to experience their expressions.
Homepage image credit: Gurldoggie