The building design stands as a living marker of community history and resilience. Based on input from the community, descendants of Liberty Bank founders, and Central District neighborhood leaders, the building tells the story of Liberty Bank through art, historic documents, and architecture. Under the direction of Project Curator Al Doggett Studios, a team of eight local Black artists developed art installations to honor the legacy of Liberty Bank and celebrate the vibrancy of the Black community in the Central District. Thank you to Al Doggett Studios and artists Lisa Brown, Minnie Collins, Al Doggett, Esther Ervin, Aramis Hamer, Lisa Myers Bulmash, Lawrence Pitre, Ashby Reed, and Inye Wokoma for their contributions as artists and community members to make this work possible. The total investment in the building’s art program is over $250,000.
Read more about the lead co-curators below.
Al Doggett was born in Brooklyn, New York, where his interest in art began at an early age. He developed his drawing and painting skills with encouragement from teachers and friends. At the age of ten, he attended his first art classes at a neighborhood community center and at the Brooklyn Art Museum.
At the age of fourteen, he took an entrance exam and was accepted at the High School of Art and Design in New York City. There he majored in illustration, graphic design, and photography.
After graduation, he took advanced classes in illustration and graphic design at the Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T.) in New York City.
Upon completion of his courses at F.I.T., Al enrolled at the Arts Students League of New York, where he studied fine art, figure drawing, painting, design, and composition for three years.
After a successful career as an illustrator in the advertising art industry in New York City, Al decided to move to the Pacific Northwest. He had visited relatives there several years earlier and was inspired by the open space, mountains, and lakes of the region.
He opened Al Doggett Studio in Seattle in 1967, producing art projects for the advertising and graphic arts industries. He built one of Seattle’s top studios, specializing in illustration, graphic design, and photographic retouching. While overseeing the studio’s variety of accounts and guiding a staff of five artists, he managed to continue to produce his fine art work.
Aside from his work for Seattle’s advertising industry Al provided art studio services to his Central District community by producing flyers, logos, brochures, and business cards for Black-owned businesses. During the 1970s, he designed several posters for the Black Arts/West theatre.
He has designed posters and flyers for Martin Luther King Jr. Day march and rally for the past ten years.
Children have been a very important part of his life and art; he has depicted them in many of his drawings and paintings. He taught art classes at his studio for children and adults, and he has also given many presentations and art workshops at various schools and community centers in the Seattle area.
Al continues his fine art work, creating paintings and drawings for exhibitions nationally and in the Northwest.
Esther Ervin received a BS in Biology from the University of California at Irvine, with undergraduate credit from the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. After graduation, she lived three years in Colombia, South America, as a Peace Corps volunteer.
After Peace Corps, she earned an MFA in BioMedical Illustration from the University of California at Long Beach, and eventually furthered her artistic studies as a PONCHO Artist in Residence at Pratt Fine Arts Center, where she was also awarded the Gregory M. Robinson Scholarship. The following year, Esther was awarded a residency at the James W. Washington Foundation in Seattle. Her work has been shown in numerous invitational and juried exhibitions since 1978 and has received a variety of awards.
The Form/Space Atelier in Belltown, Seattle, hosted her in a solo exhibition titled “We Wear the Mask” in 2014, and she soloed at the Carco Theatre in Renton in October and November of 2016. Both shows focused on social issues.
While consistently generating and exhibiting her art-jewelry and mixed-media works, Esther has curated over 45 exhibitions; half of them as Curator for South Seattle Community College. She curated numerous exhibits for Onyx Fine Arts and for several special events.
During this time, Esther has been an invited juror for a variety of local exhibitions and served as an on-site program reviewer for 4Culture, which helps support county arts organizations. She has also been invited to help select artists and arts organizations that would receive funding on the neighborhood, city, and state levels and was an invited juror for the national NAAACP 2014 ACT-SO Competitions in Las Vegas, NV.
She was formerly active on the Madrona Community Council, and in 2014 she received a community service award from the Central Area Chamber of Commerce. She is currently associated with the Historic Central Area Arts and Cultural District and is the Director of the James W. Washington Foundation. Esther works from home on the east end of the Central District.