First Show, “3 Queens,” Opens Feb. 21
by Jessie McKenna
Update: Due to the snow, the original Friday, Feb. 8 opening of “3 Queens,” has been rescheduled for Thursday, Feb. 21.
Crick Lont, aka Dozer of Dozer Art and Dozer’s Warehouse, has been quietly curating upcoming shows, painting walls and drizzling on the funky linoleum floors a la Jackson Pollock to create an art space on Beacon Hill. He’s partnering with local artists to put their mark on the storefront, pro bono; Leo Shallot’s trademark calligraphy ribbon design in gold on black wraps around the storefront.
“That’s what’s so great about this place, people just want to be a part if it,” Lont said.
This is true too of the gallery name and stylized logo painted prominently on the front window, another volunteer work offered by VK of VK Signs. And this is a testament to the tagline for the gallery: “For Artists; By Artists.”
Lont, a longtime supporter of other local artists, says just 10 to 15 percent of sales of art in the new gallery will go to the gallery itself, and that’s just to fund its longevity, however long it’s viable in a building with an unknown future. The building housing the gallery is slated for demolition and has been for some time. But with plans in flux, Lont and others have taken advantage of the community relationship developed with the property owner, Scott McDonald, who has generously offered the space for community use over the last two years.
“That’s kind of what makes it fun,” Lont said.
On Thursday, Feb. 21, Lont will open “Dozer’s Warehouse & Gallery” and reveal its secrets with a debut show called 3 Queens, which will feature three local female artists with unique backgrounds and artistic styles.
The exhibit will display in the storefront gallery. Those expecting to see the adjacent painted warehouse will have to wait. The gallery is just the next evolution of the colorful dreams of Lont, warehouse artists, and artists who have yet to make their mark on these magical spaces.
The history of Dozer’s Warehouse paints a picture of the uniqueness of the place. It’s significant that it still exists, in any form, and that a new gallery and show will soon emerge from within its walls.
In April, 2018, when the now locally famous Dozer’s Warehouse hosted it’s last event, hundreds of event-goers lamented the incoming wrecking ball they imagined destroying the dozens upon dozens of murals covering almost every once-blank portion of wall space. To the delight of the community, the building still remains, as does the paint firmly attached to its sprawling walls. For now.
The story begins in 2016, when community organization Beacon Business Alliance (formerly Beacon Hill Merchants Association) secured funding for a long-imagined mural in the north Beacon business district and reached out to hyper-local artists they followed on Instagram and who were from the neighborhood. Charms Won showed interest and pulled Lont in to the project. The Alliance hired the two artists, who ultimately collaborated on coexisting murals on the massive warehouse door and surrounding wall on the property now known by many as the “Sunflower and Whale building,” located at 2507 Beacon Ave. S.
Lont’s signature sunflowers frame Charms’ underwater scene, which features a large humpback whale bathed in light puttering around a magenta sea floor.
A synergistic turn of events unfolded in 2017 when Lont teamed up with Beacon Arts to beautify the inner walls of the long-deserted warehouse, at the time being used as a temporary community space by the local arts organization.
Soon after, Lont attended the prolific Paradiso Festival and, at the end of the festival weekend, gathered up fellow artists who had painted at Paradiso and invited them to the warehouse. Many had half-used spray-paint cans they were eager to use before flying home.
They came in late that first night. Some stayed half the night painting. They came back the next day. As some of the artists started to head home, other local artists connected with Lont to leave their own marks on the warehouse walls. Eventually, the living product emerged: Dozer’s Warehouse. And what started out as a fun way to kill some time and paint and channel creativity turned into a massive community artwork turned killer event space.
Until last summer, Beacon Arts was running an art gallery of their own and hosting regular community, and private, events in both the warehouse and adjacent storefront space, often partnering with Lont on events, art shows, and in caring for the space.
Beacon Arts and Lont (and his artist collaborators) knew this place was theirs only temporarily; the building was slated for demolition. That’s why it was available to them in the first place. Dozer’s Warehouse and Beacon Arts hosted numerous events over the course of a year-plus with one “Last Hurrah” before calling it a day.
As fate would have it, the property wasn’t demoed in 2018 as planned. The site will still be redeveloped in due time, but the building remains today. Lont expects the warehouse and gallery will be around three or four months for sure and remains dedicated to the evolving project, despite the ticking clock.
Though the gallery is more of a street-art-meets-fine art venue, the fleeting nature of the space is akin to the “street” art form, Lont said. It was always going to be temporary, and that’s what makes it so special. It’s a very zen-like concept that focuses on the “now,” with little to no regard for what happens next. Lont’s just making the most of it.
Lont partnered with McDonald to continue using the warehouse for occasional events. Lont planned to open the gallery sooner, but got busy using the space to facilitate events like the recent Levi’s “Pull Up on the Spot” West Coast skateboarding tour who had a creative use for the warehouse: an indoor skatepark. The event was a partnership with The Berrics — who construct skateboarding sites — and local skate shop 35th North. In a video created to document the tour, the warehouse and Beacon Hill’s Jefferson Park Skatepark are featured prominently.
Word is getting out that the warehouse and gallery space once operated by Beacon Arts remain. When Lont goes for coffee at The Station, across the street from his house (and just two blocks from the warehouse), he fields questions about the space and what opportunities lie within, which he does, graciously. Lont says he’ll prioritize community members, artists, etc. in regard to renting the space, and he’ll use a sliding scale for cost.
“It’s about giving people a space and a platform,” Lont said of the gallery.
He hopes people will associate the name “Dozer” with putting on great shows. In the long term, he wants to have his own gallery in Seattle and go on tour.
Lont marvels still at how smooth the process was of curating Dozer’s Warehouse.
“Working with people is so hard to be really good at,” he said, continuing, “When that stuff comes together…” he trailed off, a sense of pride and anticipation palpable in his words and the space between them. “I’ve always been a fan of the collaborative work. I feel like whenever you get two minds to try to create a masterpiece, when it flows, that’s when you really get greatness.”
Because of the warehouse, he’s had the chance to collaborate with 30-plus artists he wouldn’t otherwise have had a chance to work with.
Dozer’s Warehouse & Gallery will open a new show each month for the near future. Lont is bringing in warehouse painters to give them the opportunity to show a variety of their work and pulling in other enormously talented artists who aren’t well known. He’ll pair lesser-known artists with those with a following to boost the signal for the former. Lont will use the approximately 8-foot, two-sided center wall of the gallery as a rotating mural canvas that gallery artists can co-create on. He’ll roll over the walls with fresh paint before each new show, continuing the temporary nature of Dozer’s Warehouse art.
The first show, 3 Queens, will feature Angelina Villalobos, who uses the moniker “179,” Hoa Hong, and Cady Bogart. Villalobos and Bogart already have work in the warehouse.
Women and people of color are often underrepresented in the art world, and that’s before we take into account other intersectionality, so it’s significant that Lont’s first show features three women, two of whom are women of color — Villalobos and Hong.
All the “3 Queens” artists grew up in the Seattle area. Villalobos, on Beacon Hill, which is why, she says, Dozer’s Warehouse is so important to her.
“I was able to represent Dozer for a neighborhood walk-through with Mayor Durkan last year,” Villalobos said. “That was impactful because it allowed us to showcase some of the ways muralists are influencing the face of Seattle.”
Hoa Hong says adversity is “a big factor to my growth” and that community and diversity are things she appreciates “growing up in a POC environment.” Fortunately, she had a lot of support growing up and more recently from those she’s worked with since getting into her primary medium of figurative oil painting, just three years ago.
Villalobos works primarily in spray paint, which allows her to cover the maximum about of space efficiently, she said. She went to school for graphic design but gravitated to toward working in the public sphere through community activism. Her work often depicts animals and folklore.
“I then modernize with elements of the Mexican American experience, abortion, immigration, women’s rights, and Catholicism,” she said.
Artist Cady Bogart got her start creating T-shirt designs and then got into acrylics.
“The whole thing was really impactful for me,” she said. “I learned so much about technique for painting large scale, got to meet other artists from all different backgrounds who were also painting in the space, and have had other opportunities come from that experience.”
Dozer’s little gallery holds around 50 people. Under the right visionary direction — and with the help of phenomenal local artists featured in the gallery — the modest space packs a kaleidoscopic paint-drenched punch. It always has and it surely will under Lont’s care.’
Follow along with Dozer Art on Facebook and Instagram for the latest and find 3 Queens Angelina Villalobos (179) on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, Hoa Hong’s handle @whoaaart on Facebook and Instagram, and Cady Bogart on Instagram, her handle is, fittingly: @thequeencity.
Featured Photo: Crick Lont, aka Dozer, poses in front of Dozer’s Warehouse & Gallery before it opens to the public. (Photo: Jessie McKenna)