On Beacon Hill, a house is both home and public art gallery

Sep 5, 2011

What if your neighbors turned their house into a public art gallery?

That’s what a few artists are doing in Seattle. There's a house in Ravenna, a house in the Central Area and a studio on Capitol Hill that are all transformed into temporary art venues for an art-craving public.

Klara Glosova has held full-blown multimedia events in her Beacon Hill house. The events are called NEPO House – that's "open" spelled backwards – and they've taken over every available space in her home. From closet to shower to bedroom.

"It’s funny because sometimes the strangers freak out about going into a bedroom. It's been interesting, actually. It's when you actually get to observe the private boundaries," she says.

Making art more accessible; collaborating with other artists; even creating an art space in a neighborhood void of galleries – those are all reasons fueling her project.

Transforming walls

The idea came when she and her husband totally redid their house into the modern, angular, three-story structure that occupies a corner lot.

"Being an artist, seeing so many big white walls around immediately I thought, 'Oh, this could function as something else.'"

Glosova, who is originally from the Czech Republic, is a visual artist but she was mostly unknown in the local art community before NEPO.

"I was the mom on the playground," she says.  She has two boys.

The first NEPO event occurred at her own birthday party, when she told friends to bring art. And then the idea took off into quarterly entire-house events,  as well as a series called "Little Treats" that take up just the front room of her home.

"She gives a lot of people platforms to show our art and to share our creativity with other people," says artist Troy Gua.

Gua was at the house the other day hanging up his series of celebrity portraits called Colorbandz. Instead of eyes and noses, the paintings are a series of colored stripes based on skin tone and hair color. The Lady Gaga portrait has a light yellow stripe. (Her hair). Bill Clinton's got a bit of blue but it's mostly a ruddy pink. There's also a very brown Chewbacca.

Unusual spaces

NEPO House is now spilling art onto neighboring streets. On Saturday,  Glosova is helping organize the "NEPO 5K Don't Run."

The event will feature 80 installations and performers along a 3-mile route from Pioneer Square, through the International District, to Beacon Hill. Everything from polka dance lessons to a performance of a spider's mating ritual will be on hand.

Sarah Galvin will be reading poetry in front of an abandoned house on 18th Avenue.

"They’re usually kind of dangerous spaces. You don’t really know what’s going to happen when you go in," she says of her intended backdrop.

She usually performs indoors, say at a bar.

That sense of adventure – of happening upon the unexpected – was what drew her to be part of "NEPO 5K Don't Run."  

If you decide to walk the walk, you won’t know what you’ll find block after block, or just around the corner.

The event starts at 2 p.m. at Occidental Park.

Artscape” is a weekly KPLU feature covering Northwest art, performances and artists. The feature is published here on Sundays and airs on KPLU 88.5 on Monday during Morning Edition, All Things Considered and on Weekend Saturday Edition.