There is an artists’ Mecca in Lynden, WA where ceramicists chat amiably as they mold their crafts on the pottery wheels, jewellery instructors teach new students how to make metal earrings, bracelets and rings, dancers pirouette in the dance studio and those with a passion for fibre arts weave intricate, beautiful designs in the Loom Room. The Jansen Art Center is the hub for all these activities and more, its 22,0000 square feet exhibiting a rotating selection of art and its gift shop and Firehall Cafe feeding the hunger of those who visit.
The center is comprised of two co-joined buildings: Lynden’s old City Hall, which dates back to 1928, and the Steinhauer Building, circa 1912. The city hall operated in the first building for five or six decades, and its two jail cells, morgue and council chambers have all been reincarnated and serve a new purpose.
Where council once convened there are now regular performances by fabulous musicians on the grand piano, and the jail cell protects the center’s wine collection under lock and key. The basement morgue still carries an icy chill in the air, but today it’s a wet room used by all the art studios as needed.
Heidi Jansen Doornenbal is the woman behind the Jansen Art Center and it’s her vision that thrust the center from dream to reality. A local resident, she saw the amazing potential for art in the old buildings and was the driving force behind their reincarnation. The City of Lynden deeded the old city hall building to the Jansen Art Center, a 501(3)c non-profit that is now funded by its regular roster of art classes and by the Eleanor and Henry Jansen Foundation. After a two-year, $2.2 million renovation the Jansen Art Center opened in August 2012 and has been a focal point for local creativity and learning ever since.
Locals come to JAC for guitar and piano lessons, musical performances in the Firehall Cafe, karate and stretch classes, and a wide variety of lessons in ceramics, jewelry, fine arts and textiles. Regional art is exhibited all year long and JAC’s Juried Exhibit program helps promote emerging artists, celebrating the work of over 150 artists each year.
The vibrant center is a treasure trove of opportunities for learning, personal growth and enhancement of artistic skill. If you’re thinking about stretching your creative limbs, this is the place to do it. Located at 321 Front Street, it is open Tuesday and Wednesday 11am-7pm, Thursday 11am-9pm, and Friday and Saturday 11am-5pm.