Press ESC to close

Historic former elementary school now home to 50 artist studios


The are several good reasons to head over to the Evans School Spring Art Market Saturday, beyond the promise of a swell shopping opportunity. The quality of the fare is likely to be higher than most art sales that pop up around town, and the prices should be lower than what you would pay at a gallery.

The Evans School, built in 1904, currently houses studios for more than 50 artists. They pay below-market rents for their spaces. Photo by Fitz Lewis, provided by the Evans School.
The Evans School, built in 1904, currently houses studios for more than 50 artists. They pay below-market rents for their spaces. Photo by Fitz Lewis, provided by the Evans School.

That is because there is something unique going on in the historic building at the moment. The former elementary school, which was built in 1904, houses a slew of brightly lit classrooms where 50 artists have set up their studios over the past two years. There is a range of talent on-site, but many of the tenants are former residents at RedLine Art Center, the city’s premier training ground for emerging painters, photographers, filmmakers and more.

They will all open their studios for the event and hang around for casual chats with visitors, offering a distinct opportunity to encounter some of Denver’s more interesting creatives in a relaxed way. The Evans School is a laid-back place, and the sale will have a different vibe than the buzzy outdoor art fairs, or the more formal commercial galleries, where people usually go for art.

There is also a chance to get inside a Denver landmark. The school, named for former Gov. John Evans, is an architectural treasure built in the “classical revival” style — a flexible term that basically means it borrows a lot of its visual tricks from old European design. It has a lot of ornate touches, inside and out, including its famous grand staircase.

There is an air of local history in the space. The school educated generations of local students for more than 70 years. Lately, it has been converted, with considerable care,  into a place that might house offices, small design firms or retail shops.

The current owners, City Street Investors, spent a few years figuring out how best to use the building and — in the meantime — opened it up to artists for short-term rentals, charging them somewhere between 25 and 50 percent of the market rate in the Golden Triangle neighborhood.

Artist Rochelle Johnson at work in her studio in the Evans School. (Sarah Darlene, provided by Evans School)
Artist Rochelle Johnson at work in her studio in the Evans School. (Sarah Darlene, provided by Evans School)

RedLine is managing the studios as part of its efforts to find affordable work spaces for artists in a city where rents have increased considerably in the last decade and artists have been squeezed out. The arrangement is something of a model for urban areas such as Denver, with developers and the creative sector working together to solve a difficult problem.

But that situation might not last long. The owners of the property are already marketing the space to new tenants.

“When someone can pay full price, they are going to kick us out,” said artist Sarah Darlene, who has a space there and is organizing the open house where she will show new work.

It is inevitable, she said, acknowledging that the money from the artists’ rent provides some revenue, but not enough to keep up with the maintenance and energy costs of an antique structure, while giving the project’s investors a reasonable rate of return. The Golden Triangle is in demand these days and the school, just a block from the Denver Art Museum, is an an attractive location.

In the meantime, the studios are up and running, and bustling, and Saturday’s art market is a way to see it in action. About 30 of the artists will be on-site showing brushwork, ceramics, fashion, fiber art and installations.

Among them: Rochelle Johnson, Lauri Lynne Murphy, Fitz Lewis, Sam Grabowska, Adam Gildar, Julie Puma, Max Kauffman, Juntae TeeJay Hwang, Moe Gram, Markus Puskar and Kenzie Sitterud. That is an overload of names, perhaps, but many local art fans will recognize them from recent museum or gallery exhibitions.

As for prices, shoppers can expect things to go from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. But many artists are offering special and discounted objects, such as prints or smaller works for less.

“Some artists are selling things for $30,” Darlene, the organizer, said. “We really are trying to generate sales.”

Ceramic pieces by artist Juntae TeeJay Hwang, who will be part of the open studios at the Evans School. (Ray Mark Rinaldi, Special to The Denver Post)
Ceramic pieces by artist Juntae TeeJay Hwang, who will be part of the open studios at the Evans School. (Ray Mark Rinaldi, Special to The Denver Post)

A little negotiating may be in order. Because of the DIY nature of the event, there are no gallerists taking a cut of the money in most cases. But artists deserve a fair price, no matter the situation.

The artists at the Evans School plan to continue their art market on a monthly basis, though there is an additional benefit of going this weekend: This market doubles as the opening of a special exhibition and sale set up by RedLine as a fundraiser for its satellite studio program.

RedLine’s main headquarters is in Curtis Park where, for more than a decade now, the nonprofit has offered free studio space to up to 18 artists each year. But it also manages spaces at various locations around the city through different deals with developers and the city of Denver. One of its major outposts is in the RiNo Art Park downtown.

The sale will feature work by artists who take advantage of the satellite program.

For visitors, the RedLine show offers an opportunity to see another part of the building, the school’s basement boiler room, where the show will be set up. The boiler room, with its old mechanics still in evidence, is usually closed off to the public, except for special events. That fundraising sale will continue through June 2, though by appointment only.

But if this weekend does not work for you, there is always next month or the next  — at least until the artist studios at the Evans School close for good.

IF YOU GO

The Evans School Spring Art Market takes place from 2 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 20, at 1115 Acoma St. Entry is free. More info: denverevansschool.com.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter, In The Know, to get entertainment news sent straight to your inbox.



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

@Katen on Instagram
This error message is only visible to WordPress admins

Error: No feed with the ID 1 found.

Please go to the Instagram Feed settings page to create a feed.