Enriching Burien Through the Arts

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By on Feb 21, 2014 in About Left |

Burien Arts Association (BA) formed in 1964 as Burien Arts Gallery, an informal group of local artists, art enthusiasts and activists who wished to increase access to art in local schools and secure a place to display artists’ work. BA incorporated in 1968.

The first gallery was in the Burien 400 Building on SW 152nd where it operated for two years under the name The Burien Festival Shop. The gallery then moved to 4th Avenue SW and Ambaum Boulevard SW. BA offered arts instruction in schools and at the gallery for both students and adults into the early 1990s.

In 1974, the gallery moved to the former home of Harold and Bonnie Kampinski, the “little blue house” in Dottie Harper Park, 4th Avenue SW and SW 146th Street, next to the then Burien branch of the King County Public Library. The  gallery occupied the little blue house until 2009.

During most of the 35 years in Dottie Harper Park, the gallery thrived and spawned the Highline Historical Society and the annual Heritage Fair and Strawberry Festival (originally a celebration of the U.S. Bicentennial.) The historical society continues to operate, independently of BA, as does the Strawberry Festival, now run by  Discover Burien.

In its later years at Dottie Harper Park, BA expanded its scope to include performing arts events as well as visual arts programming. BA sponsors free Shakespeare in the Park plays each summer; life drawing; the Highline Classic Jazz Festival; free face painting at city cultural events in the summer and fall; and the annual Vision 20/20 Art Event as well as poetry readings and humanities offerings. Returning to its roots, BA now offers free student art workshops and adult drawing and painting workshops.

In 2009, the library moved to the new City Hall complex at its current location on SW 152nd Street. This move left the gallery in a foot traffic vacuum, which combined with the widespread recession, led to economic difficulty. The gallery closed that year. The old library building became the current Burien Community Center, 14700 6th Avenue SW, Burien, WA 98166.

BA continued its non-gallery programs and events, however, with help from donors and business sponsors, together with grants from 4Culture, WA Arts Commission, and the City of Burien.  BA was by then a registered non-profit (501)(c)(3) corporation. BA had also become an outspoken and proactive advocate for the expansion of arts experiences and opportunities in our community.

In October 2013, BA reopened a gallery at 826 SW 152nd Street in Olde Burien. Exhibits were juried in by a three-member committee and rotated on a monthly schedule. Art works exhibited included two-dimensional works in every possible medium, sculpture, ceramics, jewelry, and art gift cards. The gallery was staffed on a volunteer basis. Most volunteers were members of local artist group Artists United, which displayed members’ work in their own separate exhibition space within the gallery in exchange for their help. BA closed the gallery in Olde Burien in December 2016.

In January 2017, BA debuted its Pop-up Art Exhibit program in the City Hall lobby in the Burien City Hall complex where we displayed for two years. We also displayed art in the lobby of the Burien Actors Theatre at the Annex (now demolished) from time to time. From 2019 on, BA presented monthly exhibits on the BA wall at the Burien Community Center. From 2020-present, BA has presented bimonthly art exhibits on its designated walls at the Highline Heritage Museum, 819 SW 152nd Street, Burien, WA 98166. BA also retains an exhibit wall at the Burien Community Center.

Now in its 58th year, BA looks forward to many more years of serving the Burien/Highline area with the finest in arts programming, experiences and opportunities as well as arts advocacy. We thank the community for its support.