What: Input Session #1
Who: Arts Groups and Artists
Where: Mercer Island Community and Events Center
When: May 15, 2018

The first of our small input sessions began on Tuesday, May 15th. MICA is excited that so many arts groups and individual artists decided to take part in the session. These sessions are led and moderated by our partner Phinney Bischoff and are a great way to get unbiased opinions from island arts stakeholders.

The topics were varied and ranged from how the arts on the island need a space, MICA’s role as a central hub for the arts, STEM vs. STEAM, and the importance of bringing diverse communities to the arts table. At the end of the Community Visioning, MICA will synthesize all of these discussions and release a full report.

Here are a few great quotes to ponder:

“We have the recipe and everything is in the pot…but not one’s turned on the burner yet”
“Our city leaders just want to create more programs. No one wants to be the glue.”
“MICA can bring a sense of community that can exist outside of the schools.”
“Find the people who support it and press on them. Once it’s built, everyone will love it.”
“Too many people live with the assumption that all the good stuff happens in Seattle. Others believe that if you support the arts, you’re taking away from something else. MICA can challenge that.”

Input sessions to come: business owners, parents, and many more. Keep up on the dialogue by regularly visiting our website.

Everybody’s input is important! Please register and take part in our large visioning session on June 11 from 7-9:00pm at the Mercer Island Boys and Girls Club. Visit www.mercerislandarts.org/register or email info@mercerislandarts.org or call 206-715-7671.

Throughout the months of May, June, and July MICA will be holding various large and small community gatherings. We want to hear what you would like to see in a space for the arts on Mercer Island.

The first large community visioning session will be similar to a town hall. But unlike traditional town hall gatherings, this 2-hour session will be conducted as a series of small group discussions so that all attendees are given an opportunity to share their unique points of view. Our goal in using this format is to also foster productive dialogue among our friends and neighbors.

Each small group discussion will be between 5-10 participants. They will be co-moderated by the MICA team and our community input partner, Phinney Bischoff. Each group will be given a discussion prompt, and after a deep dive into that topic, participants will be asked to swap tables and explore another topic with a fresh set of perspectives. By carrying their ideas from one table to the next, we hope that participants will build on each other’s thoughts, resulting in a positive exchange of insights.

To take part in the June 11th visioning session you must register by clicking the accompanying link or visit the MICA website.


May 7, 2018
Keith Imper
Marketing Manager


Community Visioning Dialogue

‘A Journey of Discovery’

Mercer Island Center for the Arts embarks on a journey to listen and discover what the MI community would like in a new space for the arts on the Island. Since MICA’s reintroduction on February 6th at the City Council meeting, they have been planning and preparing for the ensuing year. MICA can’t wait to start creating a Center for the Arts, but there are a few more steps to accomplish before that can begin. One of those steps is the Community Visioning Dialogue.

On April 24th MICA presented its 2nd Annual Friends of MICA Celebration. The event was hosted by Suzanne Zahr at her Suzanne Zahr Gallery and catered by Arista Catering. The celebration brought together 67 excited Island arts supporters, filling up the gallery with positive sentiment for the reboot of the MICA project. That evening was the kick-off of MICA’s Community Visioning Dialogue in which Executive Director Paul Shoemaker and Director of Strategic Relationship Sharon Perez discussed what you can expect from MICA over the next three months.

The Mercer Island community should have already received the all island mailer sent out weeks ago titled Moving Forward. Together. MICA truly believes that they can only move forward together as a community and that is why MICA has created this visioning dialogue. Executive Director, Paul Shoemaker says, “I’m excited to get out and hear what the Mercer Island community wants in a new space for the arts”. All islanders should lend their voice in moving the arts forward. All ideas and viewpoints will be thoughtfully taken into consideration.

To assist in the visioning dialogue MICA has enlisted the assistance of Phinney Bischoff; with over 30 years of creative and community engagement experience, Phinney Bischoff will partner with MICA to create and execute a series of impartial listening events throughout the months of May, June, and July. These listening events will consist of 1-on-1 interviews, small group input sessions, large group visioning sessions, and a survey. The first of two-large group visioning sessions will be held Monday night, June 11th from 7pm-8:30pm at the Boys and Girls Club Mercer Island. Please register if you would like to attend as spots are limited to 100 people. You may register by email info@mercerislandarts.org or call 206-715-7671. To find out further information about the visioning process or receive updates please visit the MICA website, www.mercerislandarts.org.

This process is called ‘visioning’ because MICA wants to create a ‘vision’ for a community arts center on Mercer Island with the Mercer Island community. Of course, as always, if you have any questions about MICA please call 206-715-7671 or email AskMICA@mercerislandarts.org.


Keith Imper talks with Naomi Glass about her life as a dancer, instructor, and Mercer Islander. Naomi works as a teaching artist with Dance for PD®, allowing her to share the joy of dance with individuals with Parkinson’s disease.


microMICA Moment with teaching artist Naomi Glass! Dance for Parkinson's, Seattle Theatre Group, NW Parkinson's Foundation

microMICA Moment with teaching artist Naomi Glass! Dance for Parkinson's, Seattle Theatre Group, NW Parkinson's Foundation

Posted by Mercer Island Center for the Arts on Tuesday, February 6, 2018

You may not know, but Washington State Senator Lisa Wellman is a wonderful artist and Island resident. Here she is in a short interview at the Suzanne Zahr Gallery about her 2017 show ‘Detritus’. www.lisawellman.com


We are live at Suzanne Zahr, Art & Architecture with Lisa Wellman! #micromicamoment

Posted by Mercer Island Center for the Arts on Friday, July 7, 2017

Hopefully you were able to catch the outrageously funny performance of YTN’s 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. I was fortunate enough to attend the final performance and was even selected to be a part of the Spelling Bee on stage with four other audience members. Unfortunately I was the first to go, of course I was robbed. But seriously, I had a great time and was also glad I attended that performance because I was able to witness the final show of the senior class which was an such an emotional event for all YTN students and staff. Over the last year I’ve had the pleasure to get to know a hand full of the students and Annika Evan is one of those. I dropped her a quick line asking her what her favorites roles have been in the many years she has been a part of YTN.

Keith – What were some of your favorite roles during your time at YTN?
Annika – Marcy Park in this years performance of Spelling Bee has been my favorite role. This is one of my favorite shows, and was the last show I got to be in at YTN.

Annika goes on to say that the show was incredibly fun because they all got to play children, which at the age of 18, she doesn’t get to do often.

“The character I played, I felt was a much more exaggerated version of myself, which gave me an understanding about myself that I did’t know I would ever get. I loved the cast of this show, and the fact that the entire show was double cast. Being able to watch the other cast and work with them taught be a lot about acting and character development. And it was so fun to be able to see all of the difference in the two shows.”

She went on to tell me that another role she loved was the puppeteer for Nicky in Avenue Q: School Edition her freshman year.

Keith – What was different about this role for you than others?
Annika – This role was different from any other role I had ever played because I did not have any lines, as I was the puppeteer and there was another actor that did the voice. As the puppeteer, I had to be able to portray the character’s story and show his emotion and reactions without saying any word, which was a skill I found very challenging, yet very fun, and I learned a lot.

Keith – Not being able to speak, how did you work with the actor performing the voice?
Annika – I loved getting to work so close with the actor doing the voice of Nicky, and collaborating with him about how the character walks, and moves, and feels at certain points in the show.

We also performed this show at a black box theatre in Seattle Center, which made us all feel very professional.

Keith – I saw that you played your bass in Spelling Bee, have you played your bass in other roles
Annika – One final role I loved playing MC Dog in Go Dog Go this past summer. This role was so much fun because I got to be in a cast with younger actors who I always love working with and watching them grow as actors. I also loved that most of this show was physical comedy and not a lot of talking. This was another show I also got to play my bass, and it was the first show I was able to do that – I loved it.

Annika is graduating this year and I was very happy to have been on stage with her. Thank you to the entire YTN team for inviting me up to be a part of the Spelling Bee. Annika, I know the entire island will miss you. Thank you for taking part in this short Q&A.

Mercer Island has so many artists here on the island. My colleagues and I were quick to meet Louise and were curious about her art that she lovingly calls Whirlism. We learned a lot from this conversation about her background and the process of Whirlism.



Whirlism with Louise Hankes

We’re live with MI local artist Louise Elaine Hankes! as she talks us through her inspiration to create what she calls Whirlism.

Posted by Mercer Island Center for the Arts on Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Q & A with Robert Wood

written by Julia Hess

Robert, an artist on Lopez Island, has been creating  Mixed Media artwork for over 20 years. His exhibit, “Left Luggage” at SZ Gallery will feature a whimsical narrative revealing the story of travelling gnomes. To learn more about his exhibit, I sent a few questions along to Robert – read on for his Q&A!

Julia Hess: First of all, why gnomes? 

Robert Wood: Gnomes were selected for their diminutive size, outrageous aesthetics, fun loving nature and desire to remain a bit hidden in the landscape. It is a snapshot of a wildly different way of life and an invitation to the viewer to suspend expectations around a “constitution of aesthetic beauty.” It is a limited collection of 36 pieces.

JH:   What themes or motifs inspire you the most when creating your work? 

RW: The themes I most like to explore involve nontraditional views of beauty, invoking new perspectives on familiar objects and the marriage of abstract images and natural materials such as bark, plant tendrils, nest materials and beach floss. I carry these themes out in sculpture, collage, and shadow box works.

JH: What does the “left luggage” represent? 

RW: The Left Luggage of Gnome Island tells a story of 36 Gnome travelers who cross Callow’s Bridge to Infinity and vanish into thin air leaving only their luggage behind. It is a statement on the impermanence of objects from the perspective of infinity and a cultural reveal of life on a remote fantasy island with its own unique history and characters. The luggage was” left behind” as it was no longer needed once the travelers crossed the bridge.

JH: How do your surroundings on Lopez Island inspire your artwork? How does this work into the map of Gnome Island? 

RW: Island life engages a certain myopic focus reinforced by geography which feeds the growth of an island culture all its own. One knows their neighbors on a small island. Anonymity does not exist here. Gnome Island is a parallel reality to Lopez Island. While there are no specific similarities, I endeavored to make Gnome Island an interesting island with absurd amenities like a theme park and railroad.  As I developed descriptions for the luggage, a narrative unfolded based upon the lives of the original luggage owners who had vanished.

Come see Robert’s art at SZ Gallery from April 6th to May 31st. You can also view their artwork on the SZ website.

Throughout the year I have the pleasure of many people around Mercer Island. MICA is lucky to have an array of supporters and even many younger students in middle and high school. I first heard Martha Sprague at a master class with the Rimsky-Korsakov String Quartet. I immediately knew I had to feature her on a microMICA Moment.


MIHS cellist Martha Sprague

microMICA Moment featuring cellist MIHS cellist Martha Sprague. Enjoy some beautiful Elgar Cello Concerto and some flair of Latin composer Ginastera.

Posted by Mercer Island Center for the Arts on Tuesday, March 13, 2018

It is our privilege to finally have Suzanne Zahr of Suzanne Zahr, Art & Architecture for a microMICA Moment. Suzanne is an architect, artist, general contractor, developer, designer and the list goes on. She makes it look easy and having her in the Mercer Island community is a joy and a gift.


The incomparable Suzanne Zahr

It is our privilege to finally have Suzanne Zahr of Suzanne Zahr, Art & Architecture on for a microMICA Moment. Suzanne is an architect, artist, general contractor, developer, designer and the list goes on. She makes it look easy and having her in the Mercer Island community is a joy and a gift.

Posted by Mercer Island Center for the Arts on Tuesday, March 20, 2018