Friday July 31, 2015 0 comments
LOVELAND -- The city of Loveland has been cultivating its reputation as a regional art center for several decades. Now, Artworks Loveland, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting and nurturing contemporary artists, is in the midst of an $850,000 expansion opening Sept. 1 that will solidify that reputation.
The organization was founded in 2011, with 17 studios and a gallery area in a renovated building at the corner of Third Street and Railroad Avenue downtown. And according to Angela Canada Hopkins, coordinator of studio operations at Artworks, their model of offering long-term studio space is unique in Colorado.
“Redline in Denver is similar, but they have more of a 'residency' model,” says Hopkins. “There, the artist leaves after about a year so they know they have only that much time in the studio, but our studio artists can stay indefinitely.”
Artworks organizers also felt it was important to be located in the city's core. “We thought it would help with the revitalization that's happening in Loveland,” Hopkins says. “We wanted to take an old structure, one that was practically falling down and build a better space while also occupying that space with artists who are living and working here in Loveland and specifically in downtown.”
The concept for Artworks had been discussed for a number of years, driven mainly by members of the Erion family of Loveland. In 2001, the Erion Foundation – a charitable organization established by the family – first proposed a fine arts center for downtown. However, Hopkins said financing was a sticking point. “The idea was kicked around about how it would be funded – there were talks with the city, talks with the Loveland Museum Gallery.”
But after several failed attempts at a joint venture, the Erion Foundation decided to finance the project alone.
This latest work is also being funded solely by the foundation – no public or taxpayer money is being used, nor will there be any breaks on fees from the city of Loveland. Even so, Hopkins says the new project was always part of the plan. “This expansion had been a goal from the start, but we began with the first space just to put our toe in the water and see how things went. We're a small organization, but we want to grow with the community and provide what the community needs.”
That growth will include another 11 long-term studios and one for an artist-in-residence. “We'll also have space for classrooms, workshops, events and a gallery,” Hopkins adds. “An additional 3,000 square feet right next door to us.”
Artists are selected by a panel of jurors that reviews their portfolios and assesses their career goals to decide if they are a good fit for Artworks. There's already a waiting list for studio space, which the expansion is expected to alleviate.
Abbie R Powers was one of the first artists to be accepted by Artworks. Powers said moving into a studio at the facility is the best business decision she's ever made. “The longer I do this, the more I realize how much of a business game it is. It's not just about making art. And having that collaboration, being among other creative people who are coming in every day and committing and working, the networking part of it – that's huge.”
Powers describes her work as installation, performance and video, and says being associated with Artworks has been a game-changer. “Because my work is so contemporary and so specific, it would be very difficult for me to show or be represented by one of the galleries in this area, so having a space for me to operate as an artist made all the difference when I first came into this building.”
And the regular events held at the gallery bring even more opportunities. “Every time we have a show here that I'm involved in I make a new piece, which I wouldn't be doing if I were working out of my house or in a different environment,” Powers says.
Artworks is currently featuring an exhibit that explores the relationship between art and technology. As Hopkins puts it: “We allow the artist to play and explore and find where the intersection is and how they're connected, so we allow the exhibit to be quite open and flexible in order to show that creative process.” She views it as part of a bigger commentary on the direction art is taking, as it expands beyond painting and sculpture to include more experiences and observation.
As for Powers, she plans to call Artworks 'home' for a long time. “Until they kick me out,” she says with a chuckle.