Isadora’s Cafe has heart for Valley art

SNOQUALMIE - At first glance the interior of Isadora's is cluttered, inviting, intriguing and warm.

SNOQUALMIE – At first glance the interior of Isadora’s is cluttered, inviting, intriguing and warm. The cafe/bookstore/ antique store named Isadora’s has remained a constant throughout the growth of Snoqualmie. For 14 years Isadora’s Cafe, across from the railroad depot, has continued to be the unprecedented hub for like-minded artists of all crafts. The cafe has not changed and has the same scattered, homey, eccentric, yet interesting interior; with its aura untouched.

Open Mic Night seems a generic name for this creative and distinct group. All ages congregate with the same nervous energy and the urge to perform and share their talents.

The evening is hosted by poet L.E. Cornielson, who has seen what the world has to offer by visiting over 30 countries, but who continues to think of Snoqualmie Valley as his “homebase.”

Cornielson has continued to perfect and examine his own work through the years and helps foster other artists in their desire to grow. For many of the younger artists, Cornielson is a mentor and friend. Although he has been writing poetry for more than 30 years, he is still trying to learn and grow in his work. Recently, Cornielson began to expand his work into song writing, as well.

“The art community needs a place to collaborate and for their work to be encouraged,” explained Cris Coffing, owner of Isadora’s Cafe.

Along with all the other aspects of the cafe, the food and drinks are as authentic as its decor. The cafe serves Bolivian organic shade-grown coffee, which is both rare and incredibly flavored. Their menu contains all homemade items, with most selections made from scratch.

Isadora’s was founded on the principle of helping to give people a way to connect with artists and their work. Currently, the creations of more than 25 artists are on display throughout Isadora’s. Bringing art together is important; however, it is when you bring people together that the effort becomes visible. This is why Open Mic Night is such an important and continuously growing event on Wednesday nights.

Although it can be an extremely scary concept for someone to consider going onstage and sharing the art they’ve poured effort into, artists tend to grow from these experiences. For Coffing, it is essential to have a strong art community and she believes that Isadora’s tries to foster that environment through its events and Open Mic Night.

“It is my opinion that a society is measured by their art, and you can gage a society by the art which it produces,” Coffing stated.

The youth of the Snoqualmie Valley seem attracted to this sort of event. Although the Open Mic Nights are said to be for all ages, more and more young artists are taking advantage of this opportunity to share their work. In addition to the examples of Coffing and Cornielson, a younger artist is also helping lead this new trend.

Michael Antone, a North Bend native, has been actively performing in the community for years. The support between Antone’s growth as an artist and Isadora’s truly goes hand in hand. When Antone met Cornielson, their friendship and collaboration as artists began. They even made a CD together. Many of the songs Antone performs on the CD are Cornielson’s poems, and there are two songs that are spoken-word poems, done by Cornielson himself.

Antone is seen as not simply a talented folk musician, but a sort of example to younger artists. Antone is a member of a few bands, one of which was the headliner for Alpine Days this past summer.

“It is great to have artists who can lead; and both Bob and Michael Antone have been very helpful in proclaiming Isadora’s presence in the community,” Coffing explained.

* To contact Isadora’s, located at 8062 Railroad Ave. S.E., call (425) 888-1345.