Malika Bennett started Black Arts Love in 2016 with a series of successful pop-up markets. Now she has a brick-and-mortar store on Pike Street right next to our Pike St. Pizzeria.
After 20 years of living and working in Washington, D.C., Malika Bennett returned to Seattle, her hometown. Returning from a city with a much larger Black population, Malika experienced something like culture shock.
“I wanted to do something to showcase Black artists as a way of uplifting our community,” says Malika. “I’d been in event planning for the last 20 years and decided to try a pop-up.”
She held the first at the Garfield Community Center. Many more would follow at various locations. Flash forward to 2021. Malika got a grant from Seattle’s Office of Economic Development to help finance her dream of a brick-and-mortar establishment.
“Art is a catalyst for community building, healing, and social justice,” says Malika. “My goal had always been to have a store where Black artists can showcase and sell their art and potentially make a living from it.”
After looking at many spaces, Malika toured and loved the retail space in the Pagliacci office building next to the Pike Street pizzeria in the thriving Pike/Pine corridor. Malika and Pagliacci’s co-owner Matt Galvin sat down to negotiate a lease.
“I met with Matt, and the rest is history,” says Malika. “He believes in what we’re doing and how Black Arts Love is connected to community.”
The art gallery, event space and retail store sells goods by Black creators, including original art by local and national artists, prints, silkscreened items like tote bags and purses, wearable art, jewelry, hair and skin products, and home goods.
Artist Robert Horton with his popular Nina Simone print.
The interior space has mobile shelving so it can flex to host community events, such as paint parties, healing circles, open mic spoken word, and art classes for kids.
“I want to make our city proud for supporting those who were historically disadvantaged,” says Malika. “I hope to uplift my community and help them prosper financially through their creations.”
Open 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday – Sunday; 417 E. Pike St.; 206-251-8626