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Salt Lake’s Studio Spaces

by Kent Rigby


The future home of Artspace City Center on 500 West.

I remember trying to find my first studio space back in 1985, and what an inordinate ordeal it was. That was long before such studio venues as Rockwood Studios, Poor Yorick, Kayo Gallery, Arrow Press Square and Utah Arts Alliance. Artspace was just getting started and had a long waiting list, and the Guthrie Building Studios, then as now, also had a long waiting list for studios, which rarely became available.

To complicate my search for a suitable studio, I needed a space to do noisy and dirty 3-D work. To further complicate matters, I needed to be able to live there as well. I searched from one end of the valley to the other, and just couldn’t find anything I could afford and still be able to eat, buy materials, and pay for such mundane things as utility bills, automobile insurance and gasoline.

Finally, I stumbled onto a little building called Wasatch Plaza, at 2225 South 500 East. The Winterstick snowboard manufacturing business had the top floor of the building and was vacating to a larger workshop. I contacted the landlord and told him I was an artist and looking for studio space. He said, “How much space do you need?” The rest, as they say, is history.

Wasatch Plaza became my home, band practice studio and workspace for many years thereafter. It wasn’t easy though. Luckily there was a cabinet with a large kitchen-type, single bowl sink in it, which became bathtub, washing machine, and dishwasher. I had a hot plate, a microwave oven and an under-counter refrigerator. A wardrobe unit from Lofgrens served as clothes closet. I’d wash my clothes in the big sink and hang them on microphone stands to dry. I was “happy as a clam” and “cozy as a bug in a rug.” Not many girls would date me though; they thought I was too weird and not a good prospect, but I had my music and art, the heck with a meaningful relationship.

Ok, this is not meant to be a “I had to walk five miles on broken glass” story, but artists nowadays have it so much better. Today there are great opportunities for artists to obtain assisted living/studio spaces with luxurious amenities like covered parking, bathrooms, laundry rooms, actual bedrooms with real closets and gardens.

As many of you may have heard, Artspace on Pierpont has only 2 years left on their original 25-year lease and the owner is not showing any signs of renewing. Consequently, a lot of artists are going to be losing their studios and their living/work spaces.

Enter, Artspace City Center, a new 72,000 square foot development by Artspace located at 230 South 500 West, just south of the Patrick Moore Gallery. |1| This new project will have 18 artist live/work townhouses with skylights, full bath upstairs, half bath on the main level, and washer and dryer in the basement. Each unit has its own entry door on the front dock and a back door opening onto the interior garden area. Single artists will have no problems with presenting a “dateable” image with deluxe pads like these.

The commercial side of the project includes non-live studios, art galleries, offices for non-profits and others, and potential retail business lease spaces.

Designed by MJSA Architects and built by Hogan and Associates Construction, this project is a class act all the way. The original warehouse building was built in 1905 for ZCMI, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The interior train dock made it unique for warehouses of that era. By leaving much of the original brick and wood structure exposed, the architects have preserved the historic character of the building. The new architectural elements serve to provide a contemporary aesthetic and fun atmosphere.

The live/work townhouses are on the north side of the project and are separated from the commercial side by the interior garden area. Several large skylights provide daylight for the garden and common area interior spaces. Underground parking is available and provides another great amenity as well as secure access to the building.

The project is scheduled for completion in June of this year and Artspace is giving first priority for townhouses and studios to artists. Applications can be obtained from the Artspace website at www.artspaceutah.org or one can contact Jackie Skibine, Director of Development, at (801) 534-0231.

Other studio space venues locally available include the venerable Guthrie Building studios at 156 East 200 South, above the Guthrie Bicycle shop. These are great little, affordable, studio spaces for 2-D artists. However, as mentioned, they rarely become available and there is always a long waiting list. Most studios are “handed-down” from one artist to another.

Rockwood Studios in Sugarhouse, next to Chroma Gallery, 1064 East 2100 South, is another great 2-D studio space venue. It is well maintained and “neat-as-a-pin”. If you are well behaved, quiet, and not a paint slinger, you may enjoy having studio space there.

The recent closing of Brad Slaugh’s Poor Yorick Studios left a number of artists in the downtown area without a working space. The word is now official, though, Poor Yorick has found a new home. Slaugh has purchased a new building at to 118 Crystal Ave, which is 2590 South.|2| The new building is even bigger than the former Yorick at over 16,000 square feet and should accommodate even more kinds of artists such as photographers, sculptors and ceramicists as there are lots of studio configurations possible and several water locations throughout the building. The building is fully heated and cooled with either a/c or evaporative coolers depending on the part of the building and every studio will have natural light, either with window or skylights.

Wasatch Plaza, 2225 South 585 East is currently advertising artist studio lease spaces.|3| Available are 800 – 7,000 square feet spaces, $400 – $2,000.00 per month, and a 15,000 square foot two story building with elevator for $3,800.00 per month. Contact Neil Christiansen at 566-5931.

Kayo Gallery has studio space at 315 East 300 South. Contact Kenny Riches at 450-5408, Kenny@kayogallery.com.

Utah Arts Alliance at the Utah Center for the Arts, 2191 South 300 West, has eight studio spaces ranging from 200 to 1,000 square feet.|4| There are also two large spaces of 2,000 and 5,000 square feet that can be rented by the hour. They are great for artists working on large projects or for classes or workshops. Amenities include bathrooms, wash sinks, refrigerator, heat, and air-conditioning. Each individual studio space is private and lockable. Access is 24 hours. Studio spaces are open to artists in most all media as well as non-profits arts and educational groups. They are looking at another building for additional studio spaces and expanding their program with dance, performance and gallery spaces. Contact Derek Dyer at 485-2105, utahartsalliance@yahoo.com, or www.utaharts.org.

Photographer Stanna Frampton Coury has purchased a home at 900 South, near Horne Fine Art and Brushworks Gallery, for studio use. New studios will be available beginning May 15, 2006. Well designed, with store front viewing for displaying art work. Basement and main floor available. Contact Stanna at 801-582-4400 or stanfram@gatekeepers.com

Arrow Press Square, deluxe upper level, 2-D artists, studio spaces. Contact Jeff Hein, 502-9185, www.heinart.com.

Finding adequate studio space is still not real easy, but it definitely is getting easier. The key is to keep looking, don’t give up, and work hard to make your deal happen. Your studio Nirvana could be just around the next corner.

Happy hunting!

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