Feast Arts Center 
Opens in Tacoma

The first gallery Todd Jannausch opened in 2010 took up 40 square feet. Slightly larger than an elementary school chalkboard, Gallery 40 consisted of a single mobile wall on wheels, augmented by an awning and portable lights. He lugged it to art walks and set up outside cafes and venues, challenging the idea of what makes a legitimate art gallery in a world that fetishizes the white cube. During its time, Gallery 40 exhibited work by 35 local artists.

Since then, Jannausch—an accomplished sculptor in his own right—has organized multiple unorthodox shows that placed hundreds of mini art-filled vitrines around the streets of Portland, Oakland and Seattle. He repurposed a phone booth into a gallery containing work by more than 200 artists. Departing from the scrappy and small-scale, his latest venture is Feast Arts Center, a 3,500 square foot art venue in Tacoma.

Jannausch and his wife, artist Chandler Woodfin, had been scheming about a community-driven art center for years. Both had relevant experience to apply—she teaching drawing and painting for the past five years at Pratt Fine Arts Center, Gage Academy of Art and Kirkland Arts Center; he working as a program manager and art instructor at Pratt Fine Arts Center for as long. But they didn’t know where to manifest their dream.

“We talked about moving to Detroit or Oakland,” Jannausch says. As artists with a two-year-old son, pricey Seattle wasn’t a practical option. “Then we started spending lots of time in Tacoma. We fell in love with it. It’s the right size and has everything—museums, independent restaurants, colleges—but it’s a place where working people can still put something together.”

They quit their jobs. Woodfin sold her car. They slowly liquidated their possessions, living slim to save cash. Still, realizing an arts center proved financially daunting. Then in June, Jannausch was awarded a small windfall in the Artist Trust Fellowship, a $7,500 prize issued to practicing professional artists—just enough cash to acquire a space.

The couple found their spot quickly: An abandoned building in the Hilltop neighborhood that was formerly a car wash, and an automotive garage before that. Immediately they launched an Indiegogo campaign, which raised nearly $22,000 by August. In September they signed a three-year lease.

Since then, Jannausch and Woodfin have turned the bays of the old garage into a large classroom with a family-style worktable, wooden benches and stacks of flat files. They transformed an adjoining room into an art gallery. A small kitchen will host future potlucks and community meals. Outside, a large fenced-in parking lot is being finished for summer movie screenings. When the build-out is complete, the center will offer roughly nine multi-week classes and eight weekend workshops at a time.

“We’re especially interested in a low-cost after-school program that’ll ramp up in the summer months,” says Jannausch. “We’re trying to provide price points for everyone, so we’re offering a range of options—like condensed classes and one-day drop-ins where we supply meals and art supplies for the day, and anyone can participate.”

Feast won’t be fully up and running until early 2016, but it’s offering a small sampler of classes now: Among others, a beginning drawing class and expressive figure drawing course taught by Woodfin, a one-day coil basket weaving workshop taught by Gerald Bigelow and a dynamic creative empowerment class taught by Carrie Akre, a rock vocalist with 25 years of music industry experience under her belt. Class costs currently range from $95 to $277.

The first gallery exhibit will open in January, with work by glass artist Rebecca Chernow. Feast isn’t taking a commission from work sold by exhibiting artists. Rather, the gallery is intended as an extension of its educational program.

“In terms of building community, we could be doing that anywhere,” Jannausch says. “For us it’s about trying to bring it wherever we are. There’s not many layers or steps between what we do and who we are, between life and art. It meshes together. We want to bring community wherever we are.”