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Coupeville Arts Center tabs new director

"Judy Eakin has escaped the hustle and all the bustle that comes with a high-powered job and a hellish commute which was slowly sucking her life away one mile at a time.She's found asylum on Whidbey Island, where she will use the contacts and experience from all those years in the fast lane to help the local arts community.Eakin was recently named as executive director of the Coupeville Arts Center, the non-profit visual arts education organization that has earned the town a national reputation among artists.This opportunity came at the perfect time in my life, she said. I wanted a good, challenging job in the arts in a small community. I think it's a perfect fit.She comes to Whidbey from Seattle, where she was the executive director of the Pioneer Square Business Improvement Area. She oversaw marketing and business assistance for the 1,100 businesses in the super-popular historic area.It was one of those jobs where you never get done. There's always something more to do, she said. It was overwhelming.To top it off, her commute home to Tacoma took many hours each week through teeth-grinding, stop-and-go traffic.While Whidbey Island runs at a slower pace, Eakin isn't exactly taking it easy. She only started Monday, but she says she has loads of energy and a portfolio of ideas. She said the Coupeville Arts Center is already a wonderful facility with a solid foundation and a wonderful national reputation supported by a dedicated group of local volunteers. She doesn't plan to make big changes, but just add more to the center's palette. That means more classes, more symposiums, more partnering with other organizations and a longer, wider outreach into the community.For example, Eakin wants to build on the current art programs for children. In an age of shrinking funding for the arts at schools across the nation, she says organizations like the Coupeville Arts Center often provide the only opportunity kids have to explore the arts.She plans to take a good, hard look at the current year-round schedule of more than 130 workshops in fiber, photography, painting, three-dimensional media and youth art. She says she wants to see what works and what doesn't, then explore expansion and change.She also said marketing can be done in creative ways. She said just by being out and active in the community can go a long ways, which is what she plans to do. She's already on the statewide board of the Arts Network.For Eakin, support and proliferation of the arts, artists and artisans is more than just a business proposition. She's one of them. She holds a Masters degree in painting and is a life-long painter who leans toward the abstract.I describe my work as full of figure and narrative, exploring parts of my life, she said. I hope to have more time for painting on Whidbey, she added.------------You can reach News-Times reporter Jessie Stensland at jstensland@whidbeynewstimes.com or call 675-6611. "

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