Old Wolf Building getting new life

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The Wolf Building holds a fair share of Yelm’s collective memories. Recent history is that it was the Drew Harvey Theater for 10 years until 2005. Later it was the church offices, performance space, teen hangout and  free meal site of Crossroads Central. A year ago it was a fundraising venue for young local woman with medical issues. Then there was a rock group’s CD release party, a holiday bazaar, and a birthday party. Between events the dark space was a hollow shell waiting for another event. Pre-Drew Harvey history dates back a century.

Show posters have replaced the “For Rent” sign in the windows of the Wolf Building, but don’t assume too much about what will happen inside. The past is just a building block to what’s coming on the corner of First Street and Yelm Avenue.

For some time now a cowgirl has been a frequent visitor to Yelm and each time she couldn’t help but notice the rental sign. She’s a woman with a colorful past, a passion for music, and the gumption to shake things up on the corner.

Cameron Jayne didn’t know the history of the Wolf Building when she saw the rent sign but, she said, “The building seemed to be the heartbeat of the town so I called the owner and inquired about leasing it.”

Call her Simply Jayne, call her Calamity Jayne, call her Jayne, or call her the heartbeat of the Yelm Independent Film and Arts Foundation. Whatever you call her, she’s looking to make the Wolf Building the cultural center of Yelm’s universe.

“I personally was drawn to this area because of the wonderful publicity it is getting for being such an eclectic community of scientists, doctors, teachers and artists and farmers, some who have moved here from other countries to make this their home,” she wrote in an e-mail to the Nisqually Valley News.

“The nonprofit organization is set up so that it will specifically help keep culture blooming in this town regardless of who is operating it,” she said. 

“I’m absolutely delighted this new art center will serve Yelm and the greater Yelm community,” said Steve Craig, the building’s owner.

“He was reluctant to rent out to any old business as he had the similar sentiments that the building should be used for something that contributes to the community culturally, rather than just for commerce,” she said regarding Craig’s ownership.

“He has sacrificed a lot of money to keep the building vacant in hopes of finally drawing in the right tenant. So credit really should go to him.”

The foundation’s board will comprise a cross-section of people with diverse interests, talents and passions, Jayne said.

“This town has an essence, is strong and eclectic,” she explained. “The diversity of the community, the conservative aspect, along with the spiritual, and cultural are what creates unity and prosperity.”

“The townspeople have a sense of nobility and integrity too. Very rare these days to find.”

Tapped for the board so far are Cindy Schorno, Margarett Clapp, and Melody Rae. Jayne wants to get representatives from a fair cross-section of the community.

Naming the venue “Triad” indicates the foundation’s support of three broad aspects of the arts Jayne wants to present: independent films, live music, and fine arts and musical theater.

“It will be wonderful to have a place where we can show independent, inspirational films for teens, and provide a performance space for young musicians.”

She wants to set up an artist directory, have a website, provide a place for young musicians to play and thrive. Her vision for the space is more rounded fare than has been served in the past. Jayne’s background is slightly less refined than musical theater and she wants to bring the magic of raw music to the space.

Famous for her act Calamity Jayne and the Cowpunks, her heart lies in live music. Self-described, her band is a cross between Dr. Hook, David Allen Coe, and Patti Smith. Others have described it as Zen-Punk. Her experience as a club owner in Las Vegas, Nev. will inform her management of the space and she’s worked with top acts of every genre.

With visions of Paris circa 1930 in her head, Jayne is planning to mine the talent pool in the area to create a cabaret for a new millennium.

“I am very excited to be a part of this team,” Rae said. “Jayne has had wonderful people show up to support her and we are hopeful that once the community is aware of our intentions, Yelm Highway and First Street will be hopping.”

Schorno is equally excited. “We are fortunate to be able to have someone like Jayne put something like this together.”

Noting Jayne’s extensive experience in the business, Schorno is all in. “We will also give our young children experience in film, music and acting. Not many small towns have this opportunity.”

Volunteers to help get the space ready are welcome to show up after 11 a.m. Currently all the walls are being repainted.

Once she slows down enough to get a phone, she said, people will be able to call the space at 360-458-3140.

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