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Opened Studios 

Blake Boyd is among 19 artists who recently moved into Louisiana ArtWorks' studio spaces as part of its Studio Residency Program.

"I had a temporary space after Katrina, but I had to give it up because of cost," Boyd says. The new studio space will help Boyd as he prepares for a December show at Arthur Roger Gallery.

For many artists who lost their studios due to the levee failures, the space and support are an opportunity to get back to work and get exposure.

Louisiana ArtWorks has been in the planning for more than 15 years, and construction was delayed following Kartina. The combination marketplace, museum and studio space located just off Lee Circle is gradually opening and continues the downtown arts district's growth and development.

The Studio Residency Program provides artists with space and access to resources and facilities. When it opens to the public, that activity will be a draw for visitors and tourists. Most of the studios are available free of charge to in-state artists who apply. Other slots can be rented for between $150 and $360 per month. Occupancy is for up to one year. It's a good place to get extra exposure to the public without sacrificing studio time to be in a gallery.

Painter and installation artist Rachel Jones just completed her graduate degree in fine art. 'I was really excited about the spot that I got," she says 'For someone who just finished school, Louisiana ArtWorks is a great situation." Jones expects to spend about 35 hours per week in her studio in addition to her job as director of the art department at the Louise S. McGehee School.

Artists have 24-hour access to studios and may purchase time in the surrounding facilities. The modern, 93,000-square-foot, five-story complex contains glass, metal, ceramics and printmaking shops as well as a foundry, wood firing and salt-glaze kilns. It can acccommodate up to 40 artists daily. That community is a draw for some artists.

Multimedia artist Dan Tague, who suffered losses in Katrina and has not had a permanent studio since, is preparing for an exhibit scheduled to open in September. He was attracted to the communal aspect of Louisiana ArtWorks. 'It's always good to have other artists to work out problems with and critique your work," he says.

Louisiana ArtWorks will start welcoming visitors in February 2009. Artists' studios will be open to the public for a minimum of 15 hours per week, so visitors will be able to watch artists at work as well as view gallery exhibitions and participate in other activities. Currently, the last Tuesday of every month features panel discussions to examine various aspects of art and the art industry. Some of the workshops, like a summer printmaking class, are open to artists and novices alike.

Louisiana ArtWorks suffered financial and building setbacks both after its capital campaign in 1999 and post-Katrina, but the program's projected economic impact is about $74 million, says Shirley Trusty Corey, CEO and president of Louisiana ArtWorks.

The Studio Residency Program has been in the plans since 1992, Corey adds. 'It came from artists in the community letting their needs be known," Corey says. "We realized the connection between helping artists create their work and helping the economy to grow."

click to enlarge Painter Blake Boyd is among the artists who have moved into studio spaces at Louisiana ArtWorks. - CHERYL GERBER
  • Cheryl Gerber
  • Painter Blake Boyd is among the artists who have moved into studio spaces at Louisiana ArtWorks.
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