Dakota Arts has been in downtown Bellingham for 20 years. With a new location, a new on-site art gallery — and much more space overall — art enthusiasts can be sure to find what they are looking for.
Alan Weydert, the manager at Dakota Arts said, “I looked at over 25 spaces before finding this location. Some did not work because they were not downtown and we are committed to being downtown.” The location change happened in July this year.
“I like the new space because it is more urban, more open, and more industrial,” said Weydert. Adding that the most noticeable changes are the square footage, vaulted ceilings, wooden columns and exposed brick walls. This nearly 6,500- square-foot space is split in half. The right half is the sales floor where art supplies can be purchased and the left half is the new on-site art gallery. At back of the art gallery is a classroom. The wall that stands between the gallery and the classroom can be moved, making both rooms adjustable in size.
Weydert said that Dakota Arts in Bellingham is the flagship store and that there are two other locations, one in Ballard and one in Mt. Vernon. Beyond selling art supplies, “Dakota Arts is the leading source for pastels in the world,” Weydert said. Adding that the 10,000-square-foot warehouse in Mt. Vernon houses not only a retail store, shipping and receiving, but also a manufacturing grounds where pastels are made.
What You’ll Find
Tons of art supplies, and a staff who is helpful and extraordinarily knowledgeable in all things art. Weydert said that all the employees at Dakota Arts are also working artists. In fact, the first show that was displayed in the gallery was all work done by Dakota Arts employees. It would be a great gallery to use for art students at Western Washington University who are pursuing a bachelor in fine arts.
“This is a good venue for emerging artists to have a real show in a real gallery.”
There are new workshops, classes, and demos on the horizon — set to be hosted in the classroom that sits behind the gallery. As of now, there is a weekly figure drawing session. No instruction is given, but the classroom acts as a studio where artists can come to practice. Weydert said that they are in the beginning stages of organizing classes to be taught, as well as finding instructors for those classes. “We want a balance of professional artists as well as community members.” He added that the Mt. Vernon location offers several classes taught by professional artists, so having something similar to that is the goal. However, also having local community members teach a few days would be a great balance.
“It’s a joy working for Dakota Arts and working with the owner Craig,” Weydert said. He added that he enjoys working in the art supplies industry because it is a small industry. He said that it is neat to see what others are doing and to get excited for them, without any competition. Adding that there is a sense of comradery that exists.
“Every day you are helping people who are exploring their creative side, and sometimes you get to teach them something new.”