Partner Spotlight: Common Area Maintenance

A poet stands in front of a microphone with a small crowd sitting in a semicircle around them in CAM.
Margin Shift Poetry Reading: with authors Lila Bonow, Serena Chopra, Michael Haeflinger, Martha Ryan, Ching-In Chen, and Tanya Holtland. August 2022

This summer, Arts Corps is partnering with CAM for the Art 4 Life Summer 2023 internship! It has been such a delight to work with this talented, receptive, and kind group of artists in our journey to create a program in which teens can learn, experiment, and have fun as they get exposed to the world of professional art. CAM is not only a group, but also a space designed to foster creativity and collaboration, and we can’t wait to spend some of our summer there. Get to know CAM a little better by reading below and seeing just a few photos from the very many cool things that they do. 

What is CAM and what do y’all do? How did you come together?
CAM, short for Common Area Maintenance, is a gallery and open-format artist studio located in downtown Seattle. Our mission is to foster meaningful relationships with our member artists and the greater Seattle arts community through creative collaborations and resource sharing. In 2015, we first came together with the idea that creative spaces can be sustainable while remaining wild and rooted in exploring anti-capitalist methodology – both serving as a public benefit and a place to grow in one’s personal practice. One way we foster a sense of wildness in the space is by inviting our artist members and non-members alike to contribute to the curation of shows and events completely free of cost. These shows are also open to the public without any admission fees. So it might be of little surprise that one of CAM’s core values is financial accessibility. From the beginning, we’ve been dedicated to providing affordable space for artists to work and exhibit – and we are thrilled to announce that we have recently transitioned to a sliding scale rent model for our artist members, further enhancing our commitment to financial inclusivity.

What are some of CAM’s creative guiding principles? 
CAM embraces a set of creative guiding principles that revolve around the belief that artists thrive not in isolation, but through collaboration and generous mutual support. In order to foster such an environment, we uphold values of care, flexibility, affordability, accessibility, and unwavering commitment to our labor. Additionally, we cherish joy, play, and celebration – which historically often leads to a lot of karaoke parties!

What role do you think youth arts education has in our Seattle art community? 
We believe that youth-centered education mirrors our aspiration to see all people thrive within the arts and develop a creative voice. More specifically, we trust that youth arts education is the foundation for the next generation of voices in Seattle’s leadership. It provides the material that guides a culture towards radical action, through the lens of self-expression, empowerment, and creativity. We want Seattle’s youth to take over our jobs!

What is something you are excited for in our Art 4 Life program? 
The energy and creative power of young people is unparalleled, so we’re excited to share in that creative space together, while learning from the brilliant teaching artists at Arts Corps. Our time together in preparation has already been so inspiring and we can’t wait to continue – Multi-generational making and sharing is really fun! Another important aspect of this program is the opportunity we have to share with young people that an arts career is a tangible life choice. This feels quite powerful as most member artists at CAM didn’t see that modeled for them in their youth and had to discover or invent their own path. This is a chance to show students that the opportunities to create never stop.

Artists Dani Hopple and Sander Moberg holding up a quilt composed of non-matching squares and a blue border
Artists Dani Hopple and Sander Moberg holding up CAM’s community quilt project. December 2021
An accordion player, a French horn player, and a saxophonist play on a small stage with a sign reading "warm fuzzy feelings"
Warm Fuzzy Feelings: an Exhibition by Alexander Mostov. November 2018
Sepia photo of artists Dani Hopple and Whitney Bashaw, watching a regular color projection on a movable screen outside CAM
Artists Dani Hopple and Whitney Bashaw, watching a live projected poetry reading with author Tanya Holtand. January 2021.