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where we live: Fresh mochi

Elizabeth Jameson and son, Lee, painting art in their home and art gallery, Fresh Mochi. Photo by Joshua Huston

Where we live: Fresh Mochi

Space is everything in this family home, studio and art gallery

If you ever visit the Fresh Mochi art gallery on Beacon Hill, be sure to call in advance. Otherwise, you might catch the owners in their pajamas.

Fresh Mochi, opened in 2022 and owned by artist Elizabeth Jameson, is housed in a former grocery store that is now home to Jameson, her husband, Andy Sodt, and their 15-year-old son, Lee. Their living space consists of the art gallery, a practice space for Sodt’s band in the basement, and an adjacent home, with a window overlooking the gallery.

Caught in pajamas

“One time, a group of firemen walked in to do an inspection, and I was in my pajamas,” laughs Jameson. “They thought the building was a preschool.”

The mix-up was understandable. Shortly after Jameson and Sodt bought the property in 2001, neighborhood kids started wandering in, assuming it was a community space. Jameson began putting out paper and art supplies for them, earning the house the moniker, “The Paint House.”

The Paint House

“The kids would tell their parents that they were going to The Paint House, and they’d come over to hang out and work on art projects,” Jameson says. “When they were done, I would hang up their art in the windows for everyone to see.”

Prior to living there, Jameson and Sodt lived in a small house in West Seattle, and Jameson drove back and forth to a rented art studio in the International District. By day, Sodt is a computer programmer; by night, he is a musician. His bands always practiced in the basement of his residence. When the former DiCasoli corner store went on the market, the two decided it would be perfect for an artist and a musician to have their individual workspaces alongside their home. It was the ideal solution to meld their personal and professional needs, cutting down on financial responsibilities and commute times.

A toddler changed everything

When 2 ½-year-old Lee joined the family in 2009, the function of the space completely changed. Toys were now common installations in the space. Lee began doodling on Jameson’s artwork, prompting the parents to put up a temporary gate while Jameson worked on an upcoming show.

As Lee grew, the space evolved. Tables displayed his LEGO brick creations, and an open space enabled Lee and his friends to let out their energy however they needed.

“There is lots of space for art projects and games like ping-pong,” Lee, now in his late teens, says.  “We have a big kitchen for having weekly pasta nights, where we make homemade pasta. My friends think the open space is cool.”

A home that’s hard to leave

When Lee’s friends were younger, some of them would cry when it came time to go home. And while adult friends don’t cry, they often stay long into the night in the cave-like basement, partying, commiserating, doing karaoke. 

With a large space for creativity and community, however, comes the ordeal of keeping it clean and free of clutter. Before any community events, which have included gallery openings, fundraisers, and fashion shows, Jameson spends hours cleaning and getting the space ready to welcome people. “One challenge I have is vacuuming the whole floor in the studio because it’s so big,” she says.

Sharing space

The family faced another challenge when the old store portion of the house was used as an Airbnb for two years. 

“We were squished into a much smaller space,” Jameson remembers. “It was awkward, and we never really got used to it. We had to be quiet so as not to disturb our guests, which was almost impossible between band practices, squealing, running kids, and our love of karaoke. The guests loved staying in the art gallery-style Airbnb, though!” 

A tool for community building

But the benefits outweigh the work. The space has continued to be a great tool for building community, as it was in its days as The Paint House. During the COVID-19 lockdown, Jameson turned the storefront windows into a gallery for neighbors to enjoy. This experience and the positive responses from passersby reignited Jameson’s excitement for art, so much so that she opened the doors of her studio in March 2022 and Fresh Mochi was born.

“A lot of artists have a hard time finding a space to show their art, so I want to create a space for them here,” Jameson explains. She often collaborates with her neighbors, who also are artists who own a combined storefront and living space, to host events that bring the community together to celebrate and recognize local artists.

Fresh Mochi is open for art show openings and closings, but visitors need to contact Jameson to make appointments to view the gallery outside of these official events. Reach out to elizabeth@ejameson.com.  

Read more:

Where we live: Two families own one home

 

About the Author

Melody Ip

Melody Ip has been an avid writer since she got her first diary at the age of 5. Today, she is a freelance copy editor and writer, in addition to being the copy chief for Mochi Magazine. She loves the trees and rain of the Pacific Northwest, still sends handwritten letters, and always has at least five books on her nightstand.