Karen + Warner

In the Arms of the Angels

AngelArmsWorks is the name Karen and Warner gave to their renovation of the former St Michael Catholic Church on the corner of Third and Avenue B in Snohomish, Washington.

Dedicated in 1889 as the first Catholic Church of Snohomish County, the parish had outgrown its historic home just shy of its Centennial Anniversary. In 1986, it was sold to a private party, then sold again and eventually the now secular property was sold in a bankruptcy auction to Karen Guzak, the only bidder.

Renovation happened in two phases, first the rectory in 1993 and then the church in 2000. On Sunday, July 13, 2003, Seattle musician Stuart Dempster gave our first studio concert. For ten summers we presented three concerts, one each in June, July and August, which we called: “Second Sunday Studio Concerts in Snohomish” — or something like that.

Today we present only the St Helens String Quartet in the summer, usually August.

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Karen Guzak

Artist. Yogi. Mayor.

karen guzak
Karen in the Arms of the Angels
ARTIST

I remember the day I was inspired to create my first painting. I wore a plastic apron and surrounded myself with tempera paints. I painted a giant sun disc and when I finished, I had this huge sense of Wow!

Over the years Karen has exhibited extensively nationally and abroad; in galleries, museums, and beyond. She has been commissioned to create numerous public art projects for the King County Council Chambers in Seattle, Seattle-Tacoma Airport, Overlake Transit Center in Redmond and more.

Always drawn to leadership roles, Karen taught art at Seattle Pacific University, The Factory of Visual Art, and at Centrum in Port Townsend. She has also been very active in the Northwest art scene as the President of the board of Artist Trust.

In 1989 Guzak found herself in need of a community of artists. While most of us might join a club, Karen found a warehouse and converted it into artist’s live/work spaces: Sunny Arms Artist Cooperative, (named for its proximity to the Sunny Jim peanut butter factory) where she lived and worked.

A few years later she did a repeat performance, renovating a building into the Union Art Cooperative developed with Gene and Lois Graham.

YOGI

I started yoga when I was 50. I wasn’t at home with how I wanted to be in my body. After a while, I realized that in order to really commit to yoga in a meaningful way, I needed to teach. I opened a studio. I thought it would be helpful for the community. I love spreading the principals of yoga. It’s all about creating peace of mind and passing it on.

And it is. Yoga Circle Studio is successful business, offering over 25 yoga classes a week.

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Pose #11: Karen celebrating 75 years.
MAYOR

In junior high I was the president of the student council. I was very interested, even then, in taking a leadership role and being of service.
Community service is a great opportunity for spiritual growth, working for a more peaceful, effective, celebratory community. It’s a big art project that improves the quality of life for a lot of people.

Bringing the same passion to the table, Karen’s leadership role grew, resulting in her recent election as Mayor of Snohomish for her sixth two year term.

I want to have my life count for something. I want to make a positive impact in some way. To make a difference.

And so she does. The wow that she felt as a four-year-old after her first painting of the sun is the resounding feeling of anyone lucky enough to cross paths with her. Whether enjoying her art, collaborating with her on a project, being in her living/work space or feeling the impact of the positive community changes that she’s behind, the Guzak wow factor is huge.

Excerpts from “The He(art) of Community” by Lisa Halpern, published in The Cornish Magazine, InSight 2010

Warner Blake

Reverend Chores

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angelarmsworks image

Behind every great woman there is a man painting her church…and other chores. It became known as the Church of Perpetual Chores.

Pictured are two selfies of Warner’s shadow on a 60′ boom lift taken seven years apart: 2007 on the left, and 2015 on the right.

Warner had to use a 65′ boom in ’07 in order to replace the cross, left behind by the Catholics, with a secular themed sculpture designed by Karen.

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Karen's steeple art, 2007.
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Video still from "Ferguson's Cottage."

Related to restoring the first Catholic Church of Snohomish, Warner began digging into the history of the town, primarily through historic photographs that resulted in his book “Early Snohomish,” published in 2007 by Arcadia Publishing.

Since then Warner has written a monthly blog, first titled Snohomish Then and Now which was published in the Snohomish County Tribune for seven years.

Currently the blog is flying under the flag of Snohomish Stories, where he has begun to tell the stories on video.

J.S. White, Our First Architect: Documenting White’s Surviving Structures from 19th Century Snohomish, is the working title of Warner’s current book project. Collaborating on this project is Seattle architectural photographer, Otto Greule, who has created 11 portraits of White’s surviving buildings and homes; and, Warner is currently writing essays for each of the structures with the emphasis on the stories our old buildings tell us.

j s white snohomish

In 1982, with a background that includes teaching scenic design at Boston University and Reed College in Portland, Oregon, Warner established an independent studio in Seattle.

warner blake's storyteller
The Blind Storyteller

There, in 1990, he presented the first of his experiment puppet theater pieces set on a large conference table with seating for 12 guests. The work grew to become The SoupTalks Trilogy and in 1996 it was proudly presented at the Henson International Festival of Puppet Theater in New York City.

Squirt + Rita + George + Sam + Cleo

Our Website Team

Squirt

Squirt

Webteam Member
Squirt works independently, eats alone and rarely can you find her sleeping. Enjoys the garden in all kinds of weather.
Rita + George

Rita + George

Webteam Member
Rita and George have taken to hanging out together this winter … last winter it was George and Sam. George is our lover boy, while Rita is our anxious one, especially around breakfast.

Sam

Webteam Member
Sam is our elusive one.
Cleo

Cleo

Webteam Member
Cleo, short for Cleopatra, was born under our deck. She is a foundling, though her mother still hangs around, and our favorite.

Events + Happenings

News

Coffee with the Mayor

Coffee with the Mayor

Held at the library on Karen’s Birthday, May 21, a question about Snohomish water rates inspired Warner to put together a thumbnail history of our water system. Watch it on Vimeo!

Earthquake Drill

Earthquake Drill

Mayor Karen along with Mayor pro-tem Lynn Schilaty are sequestered with city staff durning the earthquake drill ready to make policy decisions as they learn of hypothetical scenarios of destruction around the city. You can read about the county wide drill HeraldNet.

I’m In with Hillary!

I’m In with Hillary!

My son Chris and his wife Becky treated me to a meeting with Hillary at a fundraiser in Bellevue. Her talk was inspirational and now it’s historical! She has my vote and looking forward to celebrating the election of our first woman president.

Celebrate!

Celebrate!

“One of the railroad’s lasting legacies to the people of Snohomish is now this public commons with the many civic activities that are gathered along its length. With the County’s purchase that we celebrate today we can anticipate adding 12 miles and future connections to a broader network of regional trails. First, connecting our Centennial…

Where is AngelArmsWorks Located

Historic Downtown Snohomish