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Kasey Koski’s real art? Art for everybody!

By on February 25, 2020 in Arts with 3 Comments
Kasey Koski: “It’s almost frightening to me to see a blank page.”

By Susan Lagsdin

Kasey Koski’s creativity colors just about every domestic and professional move she makes, and over the years it’s moved her art from personal to studio-scale to public.

 “I call it CCD — my ‘creative compulsive disorder,’” She said. “My friend calls it my ‘superpower.’”

Here’s what her personal art looks like. Stored in an apple crate in Kasey Koski’s home studio are 20 years’ worth of spiral bound journals, a rich multi-media assemblage. Each one is chock-full to bursting with sketches and swatches, inklings and epigrams, poems, plans, clippings, watercolor studies, doodles and diagrams.

In total, they are an almost complete portrait of the artist. 

Kasey told her husband Zeb if the house is on fire, the journals go out the window before she does. 

One of her more literal renditions, this Frenchman’s Coulee scene was sketched in Kasey’s artist journal.

“It’s almost frightening to me to see a blank page,” said the Wenatchee artist. “I started tracking ideas in my college art classes, and now the journals become more of a personal record. I circle back to them sometimes for ideas, or to support new projects.”

That’s the private life of her artist brain. 

What she does in her public life as an artist almost always symbolizes or enhances the coming together of people. Serving the larger good with volunteerism was a family imperative in her strongly Finnish Michigan hometown, and she said, “It’s even more necessary today… there’s such a decline in neighborliness in today’s technology-oriented world.”

Her choice of graphic design as her college art focus, she thinks, stemmed from not wanting to promote herself as an individual. She said, “I’m not one to ‘toot my own horn.’” 

Designing advertising for a decade was artful but anonymous. Freed from her computer graphics job, she fell in love with many media, making 2-D and 3-D art involving watercolor and acrylic paint, a variety of fabric arts, metalwork and printing. 

“I’ve never had a solo show,” Kasey said frankly. And she’s never sought one. She has joined group exhibits here with the 220 Women group, Orangutan, the Scintilla Project and at Two Rivers Art Gallery, Twisp’s Confluence Gallery, The Mighty Tieton Warehouse and an alumni exhibit at Finlandia University. 

But her true talent, she maintains, is envisioning multimedia and multi-artist projects.

Kasey’s work in Wenatchee since she moved here in 2008 demonstrates her collaborative instinct. “I joined every group, I went to every exhibit,” she recalls. 

On the founding Board of Two Rivers Art Gallery, she also became a member of the city’s Arts Commission and a co-creator of First Friday Art walk.

She teams comfortably with other people in committees, companies and councils to organize public works, but she’s also a hands-on, down ’n’ dirty art maker, not just a planner. 

Kasey learned to weld for the construction of the Yeti Project, recently installed atop Mission Ridge.

Kasey jokes, “I do my own stunts,” ranging from painting concrete mandalas on her hands and knees to climbing a sky-high ladder to hang Japanese lanterns in the museum’s light well or welding chains to the massive leg of her latest sculpture. 

Kasey’s first big public project was In Wenatchee’s Pennsylvania, Methow and Washington parks, where she painted designs in the wading pools. They are lovely in summer spray and entice children to play games and do chalk art in the off seasons. 

She also created Imagine South Wenatchee street banners, she built a VW-sized bird nest for a Public Land event at Methow Park, and she recently completed her 2019 masterwork — fraught with a steep learning curve and a few setbacks: the 11-foot tall steel Yeti atop Mission Ridge. 

“Completing this made me so proud; we definitely fulfilled the vision for it,” she said.

It was an imperfect storm of circumstance that led to Kasey’s hiring in 2015 as Curator of Exhibits for the Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center. 

About six years ago, saddened after her beloved younger brother Andy died, she was inexplicably moved to reinvigorate her art life and change her focus. That’s when she proposed and created those first big, community-centric public art installations.

Soon, curator Bill Reitveldt brought her on as his assistant at the museum. On her mentor’s retirement in 2015, she said, “I dusted off my resume and applied for the job.” 

It’s a left-brain intensive (with planning, projecting, paperwork) but arts-rich job that she knows is a good fit for her. “I do believe my brother was pulling some strings for me and helped me find my place,” she said. 

At the museum, she enthusiastically showcases the art and stories of other people and places. 

This winter she brought in NASA’s traveling astronomy exhibit, My Sky, and the historic Hartsfield Quilt Collection, family quilts from slave times to mid 20th century. In March, she and ESD volunteers will hang the 41st Annual Regional High School Art Show.

But Kasey’s already focused on her next after-hours project. 

Remodeling is a favorite avocation, and she’s ready to add a bathroom to her and her husband’s lovely 114-year old house just uphill from Wenatchee Avenue. 

It may not be gallery-wall art, but the creative choices of color, texture and décor on this labor of love will probably spring from the pages of her latest journal. 

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There Are 3 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Kathe Marchi says:

    Wonderful story! Kasey is so talented ! Keep up the creative work!

  2. Sue Sands says:

    Proud of you, Kasey. So much talent and desire to serve others. You are the best!

  3. James S. Russell says:

    Wonderful background I didn’t know about and an exciting update since we last worked together at the Museum. Congratulations.

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