The Gail Harker Center for Creative Arts is located just outside the town limits of La Conner, WA. The building is a greatly renovated dairy barn which was given new life in 1998 by local architect Allen Elliott and his wife Chris. We sometimes refer to it as “Barn House.” While the upper floors are a private residence, the ground floor of the barn houses the center’s spacious Design studio and Stitch studio, as well as a small kitchen, a washroom and a couple of supply rooms.
The Studios are very flexible rooms that can be rearranged to suit many different requirements; both are equipped with numerous outlets through-out which make plugging in sewing machines and other equipment easy. Students usually have one and a half tables to work at but often they have set ups in both of the studios.
The Design Studio
This is the first room that Don renovated when we moved in. It is approximately 3000 sq. ft. New lighting was installed along with new ceiling tiles. Plumbing was added to accommodate 6 deep sinks for painting and dyeing. Shelving and cupboards were added on all of the walls around the room to house equipment, tools and materials for the classes. A new floor surface and sound board for the walls was included in the renovation. Gallons of paint were used on the walls.
Two very large custom made painting tables were put in place along with a conference table and tables for students to work at. Outside the sliding doors in this room are 2 patios. One patio is next to a pond where a muskrat family has built a home.
The Stitch Studio (Needlework room)
Previously this space contained two rooms and the major renovation made it into one area with a wide walk through arch. It is approximately 3000 sq. ft. New lighting was placed in this room along with new ceiling tiles. Two deep sinks were installed as well as cupboards to house equipment, tools and materials. We often use this room as a gallery when there are student exhibitions. The room has many windows on three sides of the walls overlooking the gardens. Outside the two sliding doors in this room are a long porch with a large patio and a small patio overlooking the pond. Slides and videos are viewed in this room.
We have a small kitchen at the Center with a refrigerator, microwave and a sink for washing up. There are cupboards containing dishes, cutlery, cups and glasses. Students bring in a few supplies for a light lunch or bring leftovers from a meal out. There is always room to eat as a group in one of the classrooms or on nice days to find a table outside. La Conner is very close by. Some people like to occasionally eat out at one of the restaurants or bring a sandwich back to the class room.
Across the front walk from the Design studio is a small building where our offices are currently located. There are four of us that have space with computers and printers here. Eventually this will be the location of our extensive library and a common room for meetings and eating lunch when the weather is too cool to dine alfresco. New offices and a gallery space are currently under way in another part of the building.
The Center is surrounded by beautiful gardens, patios, and a pond. There are more than 70 species of trees and plantings on the grounds of 3 acres, which serve as year round inspiration.
Beyond the grounds we are surrounded by fields full of crops in the summer and trumpeter swans throughout the fall and winter.