Schack Art Center strives to connect the community to art

  • Written by Deborah Stone
The Schack Art Center is the jewel of Everett. Courtesy photo.
The Schack Art Center is the jewel of Everett.

The 19,000-square-foot facility, which contains a retail art store, galleries, multi-purpose classrooms, studio space and a hot shop, is the new home for the Arts Council of Snohomish County.

In its first year, the center had 33,000 people walk through its doors and nearly 1,700 artists and art students exhibit their work in its galleries and store.

Schack is quickly becoming the go-to place for art in the County.

“Our mission here is to connect the community to artists and to how art is created,” says Judy Tuohy, Schack’s executive director. “People can come and watch artists in action, view art on display, take a variety of classes and enjoy the different activities and festivals we offer year-round. They can also rent studio space or hold special events here such as weddings, birthday and retirement parties, corporate meetings, retreats, fundraising auctions and book club luncheons.”

The shining crown of the $6,000,000 center is the unique, state-of-the-art hot shop or glass blowing facility.

Best of all, it’s open to the public.

Artist Jesse Kelly makes glass pumpkins in the hot shop. Courtesy photo.
A rolling garage-style door connects the hot shop with the main exhibit space, allowing glass blowers to put on public demonstrations.

Inside is one of the most technologically advanced furnaces in the world, which holds up to 1,000 pounds of molten glass.

The “day tank” as it is called stays on 24 hours per day, seven days a week and melts glass at 2,350 degrees.

The glass in the furnace comes in the form of glass pillows, which are a pre-melted glass manufactured by Spectrum Glass in Woodinville.

There are also three empty re-heating furnaces called “glory holes,” which are heated with natural gas and forced air and used to mold the glass into its desired shape.

And then there are three Annealing ovens that help to bring the glass temperature slowly down to room temperature overnight.

Adjacent to the hot shop is a flame and kiln studio where glass artists work with glass at a lower temperature.

On any given day, there are usually groups of glass blowers at work in the hot shop.

Some are established and well known; others are emerging artists or students participating in one of the center’s glass blowing classes.

Arts education is a big part of what Schack is all about and in addition to numerous glass-related courses, the center offers instruction in everything from drawing and painting (most popular) to printmaking, silversmithing and calligraphy.

Since the center opened, it has tripled the number of its art classes and workshops.

“We have been offering classes to the community for the past 35 years,” notes Tuohy. “We were known as the Arts Council of Snohomish County, but we never had a permanent home. When we moved into our new place, we felt we needed a name change —  one that wasn’t associated with the government because we are a private, nonprofit organization and always have been from the beginning.”

Tuohy continues to explain that the center is named for John and Idamae Schack, in honor of the couple’s longtime support of Everett’s cultural institutions.

“We felt that this would be a more meaningful name,” adds Tuohy.

It’s important to point out that admission to the center is free and visitors are welcome to look at the exhibits on display, watch the glassblowers in the hot shop or peruse all the interesting artwork in the retail shop.

Exhibits in the main gallery change every six to eight weeks.

Recently, the center featured work by the Northwest Basket Weavers Guild.

For the holidays, there will be a special exhibit of work from women painters of Washington.

The room’s 23-foot ceilings and movable walls make it ideal for installations of all sizes.

In addition to the main exhibit area, there’s also the Emerging Young Artist Gallery, devoted specifically for students K-15.

During the school year, exhibits from Everett and Edmonds community colleges, various local high schools, the Denney Juvenile Justice Center and other such institutions are featured.

The two studios on site are each over 750 square feet and can be used as separate spaces by closing the moveable center wall or as one large space.

There’s even a small prep kitchen off one of the rooms to accommodate special event needs.

As for the retail art store, over 200 Northwest artists are represented with artwork that includes jewelry, paintings, ceramics, glass, cards and more.

“People come here just to shop for those one-of-a-kind gifts,” says Tuohy.

Visitors, artists and students continually give Schack high marks.

Tuohy comments that the response has been overwhelming positive, adding, “The community has taken ownership of the center. People enjoy coming in here because it’s free and we’re very friendly and welcoming. Our goal is to make art accessible. Too many times, it can be intimidating and that’s not what we want.”

Currently, the center’s nucleus of activity is on the first floor of the five-story building, however it also has space on the second floor.

Tuohy explains that future development, or Phase 2, will involve the creation of studios for metalsmithing, ceramics, lapidary and printmaking, as well as additional exhibit space.

She says, “There’s 6,000 square feet upstairs that needs to be finished. Once we finalize the floor plan and get a cost estimate from the architect, the Board will need to determine when to begin another capital campaign.”

She adds, “For now, we’re concentrating on increasing awareness and creating new partnerships with other organizations so we can offer more opportunities to the community.”

For more information about the Schack Art Center: (425) 259-5050 or

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