Scene: Mollie Edson to bridge student-community gap

BY JUSTIN MERRELLStaff Reporter

The divide between campus and downtown is obvious. Many students unwind at the bars on weekends, but otherwise there is little student presence.

Mollie Edson, owner of the 420 Loft on the corner of fifth avenue and Pearl street, wants to get Central students more involved in Ellensburg’s downtown scene.

To do this, Edson wants to utilize the multi-purpose building’s first floor as a wine tasting room, featuring wine produced by graduates from Central’s Global Wine Studies program and jazz played by Central musicians.

“I love the energy of students,” Edson said. “It would be a dream of mine as an alumni, and I think it would fit nicely to have wine downstairs and art upstairs.”

The 420 Loft often features Central student and alumni artwork. Additionally, Edson has two student interns who she helps prepare for the art industry. She provides opportunities for them that might not be available in the classroom and most notably having them curate a show featuring artwork of their choice.

The planned tasting room would have Global Wine Studies majors pouring for patrons, where students could gain hands-on experience in their respective industry. Edson believes an additional wine tasting venue downtown would stimulate business for all the tasting rooms downtown.

“It’s nice to go into a business where you are not competing but actually helping each other out. The more you have, the better everyone does.” Edson said. “We’ve certainly found that to be the case with the art galleries downtown.”

The 420 Loft is also one of the venues of Ellensburg’s First Friday Art Walk, where Edson hopes to see more students attend.

“The detachment between campus and downtown is pretty huge,” Alex Semmons, junior education major, said.

Semmons is one of Edson’s two student interns at 420 Loft. He didn’t explore much of downtown Ellensburg prior to his internship.

“I didn’t go downtown at all as a freshmen, I didn’t really have an interest,” Semmons said, “This place is underrated, had I known about events like the First Friday Art Walk I definitely would have come.” The 420 Loft is currently featuring works by Central alumni Russ Hepler and student Tarra Hall-Ward.

The artwork changes with every first Friday. Next month, the gallery will feature works by Scott Mayberryand Justin Gibbens, both Central alumni.

“[Students] say ‘I don’t get art, I don’t understand it.’ But I tell them you don’t have to get it, just come and look at it,” Kaitlyn Alderson, Edson’s other intern and junior computer science major, said. “College is all about opening your horizons and trying new things. This is perfect for that.”

Alderson became an intern at 420 Loft after attending her first Art Walk, where a previous intern introduced her to Edson. Semmons found the internship through Alderson, which illustrates the kind of social formula Edson is anticipating to bring more students downtown.

“A great thing about when students show their work is they get their friends down to see it,” Edson said. “The more students art that I show in the building, I feel like the more students find out.”

Edson is optimistic that her involvement with Central will establish a connection between students and downtown, encouraging them to attend events such as the First Friday Art Walk.