Large arts and music center nears its opening
Jacob Kerst photo
John Carswell stands in front of a piece of his graffiti collection. The collection will be shown at his museum that's being opened during this fall in Everett. The art piece depicts what Carswell called "mobbing" where a group of grafitti artists would run up to a bus at one of its stops and spray graffiti onto its side until it leaves the stop.
EVERETT — A new graffiti museum and music venue is coming to Everett this fall at Everett and Wetmore avenues, within the former Club Broadway building.
The building, being named The Apex, is currently in the process of major renovation by new owner John Carswell, who is also the sole owner of the graffiti collection to be housed in the building. He plans to utilize the building as a community center, cocktail bar, formal event venue and business meeting location.
The building was constructed in the 1920s and still has many original fixtures and furnishings, which can draw those who appreciate the vintage aesthetic of that time. Carswell hopes to keep and repurpose as much of the original 1920s history as he can.
The museum will be a nonprofit organization called the Apex Art and Culture Center, opening more opportunities for community outreach and volunteering.
Carswell plans for the museum to be open by October, even if that means opening while the renovation is still in progress. Carswell said that the building doesn't necessarily need to be 100% finished before the museum can be viewed by the public. The optimistic idea though would be to have the museum and music venue open sometime during fall.
The museum will be the first and most complete graffiti collection museum with artists from the West Coast, East Coast, Dogtown, New York and more.
Carswell spent nearly two decades collecting the art, which is almost all original commissions, in the hopes of being able to present the art of graffiti to the public. Graffiti is only about a 50-year-old art form and people don't quite understand it yet according to Carswell.
He says graffiti is more than vandalism, it’s a professional art form of its own with artists with talent.
“I always knew that the point of the collection was to preserve an art form that's being erased,” said Carswell. “Something like that doesn’t belong to one person.”
The main stage music venue section of the building consists of an 850-person capacity front standing room, with plans for an expansion further back into another room. There is also balcony-level seating above the mainstage level and multiple bars. There is a green room for performing artists in a large room secluded above the mainstage level as well.
Carswell hopes to host high-profile music performances, drawing some attention away from Seattle and bringing the big music scene to Everett. With artists and musicians moving to Everett from Seattle to do their work more cost-efficiently, the timing of the venue could be spot on.
The building also has a grand ballroom that Carswell plans to use for formal events, business space that can be rented out for meetings, and a large bar area that he plans to turn into an upscale, 1970s Punk Rock-themed cocktail bar.
Carswell refers to himself as a ‘collector, not an artist’ and said that the relationships that he's made with the artists over time are valued and appreciated. He plans to teach the art of graffiti through classes and events saying that the city of Everett has been very supportive of the building transformation thus far.
“The museum, I feel, will have international pull and offer many opportunities for the community,” Carswell said.
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