McLeod Residence, the gallery and lounge in Belltown, was too good to be true. For almost two years, it was a high-tech haunted house of art and culture. Its gothic wallpaper was not just decor but the embodiment of the 100-year-old building's mythical history, which involves (among other things) a Chinese mafia hit executed in a bathtub. The fact that some of McLeod's members legally changed their surnames to "McLeod" seemed gimmicky—but it reflected a primal, Bowling Alone–generation hunger for meaningful belonging. A photo booth at the entrance immediately uploaded the faces of visitors to Flickr, in case you wanted to see who was there when you were considering going.
Last week, McLeod Residence announced it has to vacate its building, which has never really been up to code to host crowded public events. "We have been working with the fire department since day one," Lele McLeod wrote in an e-mail. "It has ended with no solution that is possible for us." The blog post announcing the closure—McLeod's last day is October 31—emphasized "there is no big bad wolf in the city who is trying to hurt us." It also emphasized this is not the end of McLeod Residence: Organizers are looking for a new space.
It has to be acknowledged that this first incarnation of McLeod Residence was special. This past Sunday, near midnight, karaoke and the filthy '70s cult film Sweet Movie provided background for the closing exhibition of three Seattle artists: slick, large, color-saturated photographs of beautiful young women alone in pretty settings by April Brimer; a series of tender, petite oil-on-board paintings of Chinese factories by Curtis Taylor (hanging in the small and elegant Parlor); and two animation installations by Brent Watanabe. The large installation was closed, but from a YouTube video appears intriguing and funny—it involves a duck and her ducklings in a wasted city landscape. The small installation uses a closet "gallery" with a porthole to magnify and reflect a moving image of trash piling up.
In another room, a light fixture sewn with conductive yarn by Maggie Orth is controlled by touch. Near it is a friendly exhibition of four street artists curated by a 10-year-old. McLeod Residence has always been full of small wonder.