Space Less Empty

The Empty Space looked overseas to rehabilitate its ailing fortunes and foundMelanie Matthews, a 10-year veteran of the U.K. arts scene, who was introduced last week as the theater company's new managing director. Matthews, whose résumé includes time with Britain's Kneehigh Theatre, holds degrees in English literature and business administration—the latter of which will certainly be put to the test: The recently saved-from-the-brink-of-disaster Space is down to a permanent staff of six and a budget of $650,000 for the season, which opens Sept. 21 with Bryon Lavery's Tony-nominated Frozen. Artistic Director Allison Narver couldn't be happier about what Matthews brings to the table. "She has a deep marketing and management background, she is passionate about theater, and she understands the importance of creating a stable environment so that we can create challenging, provocative, exciting, fun work," says Narver. STEVE WIECKING


A somber mood prevailed last Friday at the final breakfast served by Boomtown Cafe, a downtown nonprofit that's been serving hot meals to homeless people since 2000. The piano played, old friends posed for pictures, and patrons loaned a hand with the dishes, but their faces all carried the same defeated expressions. The cafe's doors are shutting indefinitely, due to lack of funding and involvement. "We need more money, more fundamental organization. This place was built on ideals, and we just weren't able to move that into a business sense," says volunteer coordinator Doug McKeehen. Apart from losing a great service, and a piece of community, McKeehen worries that Boomtown patrons might also lose heart. "When you are on the street, you just want to feel like you matter. This is just another way of telling people that they don't matter." NICHOLE BOLAND


Representational art is still popular in the age of abstraction—at least in Kirkland, where city officials recently raised nearly a quarter- million dollars to save three bronze wildlife sculptures adorning downtown streets. The artworks, depicting a pair of bears, a pair of mule deers, and two nuzzling bunnies, have been on loan from collector Bill Ballantine for the past decade. Last fall, Ballantine announced he was ready to sell, and the city went on a hunt for $212,160. By July 26, Kirkland City Manager Lynn Stokesbary said, nearly 600 donors had come through. The sculptures are the work of prolific Colorado wildlife artist Dan Ostermiller, who came by his gift for anatomical accuracy honestly: In his early 20s, he worked in his dad's Cheyenne, Wyo., taxidermy shop. For a look at Kirkland's now-permanent pets, go to, click on "Kirkland Arts," and then on "Outdoor Sculptures." LYNN JACOBSON

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