Whatcom Magazine

Whatcom Arts: Jansen Art Center brings exhibits, music, classes to Lynden

It’s almost summer and the art at Jansen Art Center has never been hotter.

The Lynden venue, with galleries, studio workspace and a concert chamber, begins its summer hours on May 26, providing more time for people to enjoy classes in ceramics, dance, jewelry, music, painting and textiles. And, for the time first, the center will offer “Kids: Do Art!” as a summer camp, June 22-26.

Activity at the center is growing; 198 people participated in classes the last three months of last year, a jump of nearly 74 percent compared to the same period a year earlier.

“It’s special to walk in here and see gorgeous art and see people discover the artistic spirit in themselves,” says Zac Graham, the center’s director. “That excitement is contagious.”

Jansen’s summer juried art exhibit, with a variety of media for sale, opens June 4 and runs for three months.

Also, “The Cup Show,” a juried display and sale of handcrafted ceramics that includes coffee mugs, teacups and more, opens June 4 and runs for two months.

And an exhibit featuring raspberry-theme works, including paintings, photographs and three-dimensional pieces, will run June 4 through July 31, which overlaps Lynden’s Northwest Raspberry Festival, July 17-18.

Along with classes and exhibits, the center offers free live music from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesdays and 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, with regional musicians performing jazz, new wave, country, blues and other genres.

“The drive up Hannegan (from Bellingham) during long summer days is beautiful,” says Lindsey McGuirk, the center’s marketing director. “People are surprised by the physical space, how big it is, and how beautiful.”

Jansen Art Center held its grand opening in August 2012 in spaces formerly occupied by Lynden’s City Hall and fire station. In the former fire department space, the Firehall Café now offers sandwiches, soups and salads, along with regional wines and Kulshan Brewing beer. In the summer, the café adds 20 patio seats, with a view of Mount Baker, to its usual 60-seat capacity.

All of center’s gallery spaces, as well as the café, piano lounge and the 110-seat Chamber Hall – which formerly housed City Council meetings and now is home to a Schimmel concert grand piano – are available to rent.

A foundation started by Whatcom County couple Eleanor and Henry “Hank” Jansen agreed to renovate the space if the city of Lynden agreed to gift the old City Hall to the foundation. Hank Jansen turned Lynden Transport, a local company, into Lynden Inc., a worldwide transportation company. Eleanor Jansen was a weaver and civic volunteer.

The renovation preserved jail cells in the City Hall basement.

“People have memories here, including a few who sat in the jail cells when they were 16 and had their parents come get them,” Graham says. “But I won’t name names!”