ArtSEA: Seattle’s new Arte Noir sheds light on black creators

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The handwriting on each Post-It foretold what would soon be loading in this black maker retail store: accessories, skincare, headwear, clutches, pharmacy supplies, bracelets, books and more.


ArtSEA: Notes on Northwest Culture is Crosscut’s weekly arts and culture newsletter.


The specialty shop started with the Arte Noir newsletterlaunched just over a year ago, and is about to make its big reveal with a festive celebration on 17 Sept (12 p.m. to 6 p.m.). The event coincides (no coincidence) with Wa Na Wari‘s second annual”Walk the block” Art Walk (September 17, 2-6pm), a benefit event with tickets and a plethora of Black artists, dancers and live music.

“We are 95% there”, Founder of Arte Noir Vivian Phillips said as she led me through the high-ceilinged room. “But we still don’t really know how to operate the lights.” She laughed and showed me a puzzling panel with 24 individual controls.

Located at 23rd and Union, on the ground floor of Midtown Square In terms of development, Arte Noir is among many new public works by black artists. One of them is visible from the windows: Yegizaw “Yeggy” Michael‘s permanent installation visual rhythm. This abstract timeline of the Central District is plastered in 200 wooden slats – painted in bright colors and carved with Eritrean symbols – and hangs like a peacock fringe on the building facade.

Inside, the vibe is clean and modern, with a long expanse of floor-to-ceiling windows and elegant blond wood display cases. Managing Director Jazmin Scott was also on the premises (“Oh, I’m always here,” she said), made the final furniture arrangements, and wrote a few more of her signature sticky notes. She wasn’t sure about two new yellow chairs yet, the Guest Services Manager Mark Mitchell was unpacked from the packaging. At the opposite end of the room, guest services is connected Col Abram was busy painting a design in the entrance hall.

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