Mokedo, owned and operated by Mollie Bryan for the past two years, is one of those arts spaces better described as an environment rather than a gallery. The difference between the two exists in how our bodies interact within the space and others in that space, the former resisting this interaction and the latter depending on it. Mokedo's final "exhibition" sadly closed last night. After the closing, the environment will remain until the second weekend in September. Mokedo has become the most recent victim of the restructuring of Seattle and the pulsating real estate market. The units in the compound Mokedo occupies are being sold off one by one. On top of that, Bryan wasn’t even properly notified until she reached out to renew the lease. She learned the bad news then.
Bryan’s work has never been constricted to the three walls and one garage door of Mokedo so, while this closure is a loss for her tight-knit community, it is by no means the end of Bryan .
“I don’t have high hopes. Luckily most of the events that I do here I can do other places, but I am not the only person looking for an affordable art space,” she said. The trend of closures is inflating; there are more disappearing spaces, curators, and writers leaving the city than I can personally keep track of. This creates new insecurities on top of the already rickety Seattle art scene. Additionally, there's a lot of blame being thrown at the community itself, which is completely unfounded: you should have marketed more, I didn’t even know this place existed, why are you complaining, work harder next time. Space makers like Mollie Bryan dedicate all of their time, money, and effort into generating safe, self-expressive, and art driven bubbles for the city's outsiders. With the current dwindling funding and a distracted citizen base, this is getting increasingly difficult–regardless of effort.
Bryan brought up something that is rarely acknowledged by anyone in Seattle except those of us directly affected by it: Seattle doesn’t care about integrating art-making into the everyday lives of the citizens. You can blame Amazon for this and the changing economic environment, but this is not new. The city itself should take note, metropolises such as Montreal and New York are hubs of inspiration for global artists and draw people from Seattle to them. “I go to Montreal every year for inspiration," says Bryan. "There, the government funds technology and light installations. I don’t see Seattle doing that yet… music yes, music is very much a part of your life here, but not art.”
This is exactly why we lose our most talented space makers. In response to Julia Greenway’s closure of Interstitial earlier this month, Bryan stated, “On one hand I totally agree with her, Seattle isn’t ready for the work she was bringing in, but on the other hand that’s exactly what I am trying to do: make this kind of art accessible so people don’t have to go into a gallery and can have the high-brow next to an EDM light installation.”
While Mokedo closes, Bryan remains. She still has hope that her community in Seattle can persevere. “I am not done with Seattle, there is more work here to be done. I might have to move outside of the city and I won’t have a space but I will still do my work here,” she says.
Seattle, consider yourself lucky: someone still believes in you.
After the closure of Mokedo, Bryan will be working on the "Let There be Light" exhibition, a digital projection to be displayed on the Elliot Bay silo from December 14th to 21st. Keep your eye out for more events as Bryan strives to bring technology and light art to the city.