The sprawling Stutz Business Center downtown already is a haven of sorts for the 72 artists who have studios there. Beginning in January, it also will have a space they can use to teach, mingle and show their work.
It's the brainchild of Stutz Artists Association President Jerry Points, who envisioned a first-floor gathering place for the diverse group of painters, sculptors, photographers and others who toil within the labyrinthine building.
"Most [artists] will go to their studio, close the door and work," he said. "I wanted to be able to get together and exchange ideas, have the camaraderie and impromptu critiques."
The 1,600-square-foot room, which had been used for storage, will be split between teaching space and a gallery that will include a full-service kitchen and lounge where artists can congregate.
The Stutz Artists Association will manage the workshop space, where members can teach classes and keep 85 percent of the tuition they collect.
"It's a better fee structure than most artists doing these national workshops see," Points said. He said artists who travel to teach classes often have a hard time making any money once they pay for air fare and lodging.
Workshop participants will have roundthe-clock access to the space, and the association will try to lure regional or national artists to lead classes, too. Rental fees for visiting artists will be negotiated on a case-by-case basis, but Points said the goal is to have them keep at least 75 percent of tuition.
"This is truly filling somewhat of a void in Indianapolis," he said.
Points already has signed up to teach two 15-week courses-one on oil painting and another on figure drawing-in the room and other Stutz artists are booking it for workshops, including photographer Ginny Taylor Rosner and painter Julia Zollman Wickes. Locally based sculptor Jacob Dobson also will host a workshop.
Wickes said she's excited about the space in part because it's so flexible.
"You're invited to teach whatever you would like instead of being presented with a set agenda," Wickes said. There are no class size requirements, so if Wickes wants, she can book the space to teach just two students and pay only the 15-percent fee.
Locally based painter C.W. Mundy travels to teach workshops in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Fredericksburg, Texas. Mundy wasn't available for comment but his wife, Rebecca, who helps run his gallery, said the planned 85-percent rate was a "very, very good" deal for artists.
Indianapolis Art Center hosts most local workshops now, but leaders there see the new space as a potential collaborator, not a competitor. Art Center officials want to book regional or national artists to teach different classes at the center and the Stutz-giving the local arts community additional options.
As it is now, the Art Center generally has enough flexibility during the summer to book multi-day workshops, but fall and spring educational options usually are limited to the weekends.
Saturday and Sunday sessions tend to be more popular, anyway, because many students can't commit to several days away for workshops. Having additional workshop space would help meet that demand.
"We're changing our education model to fit the needs of people who have large time constraints," said Art Center spokeswoman Chelsea Church.
Two Ohio-based artists are on the Stutz roster already for 2008: Textile artist Angela Keslar competed on season three of "Project Runway," a Bravo channel reality series where fashion designers vie for prizes including $100,000 to start a clothing line. Also coming next year is basket-maker Judy Dominic.
Member artists also will be able to use the space for other purposes, such as pitching in to hire a model to pose for them, for example.
The other half of the new Stutz area will include a full-service kitchen, a lounge for artists and an 800-square-foot gallery.
Association artists will be able to show their work in the gallery in exchange for a $100 hanging fee to cover marketing. The only requirement-intended to encourage artist collaboration-is that each show features three artists.
The shows will rotate every month, timed to the Indianapolis Downtown Artists and Dealers Association's First Friday studio tours.
Before long, the new gallery will be the only exhibit space in the Stutz. Pivot Marketing's Pivot Gallery will close in early 2008 when the marketing firm and its sister company Print Resources move to their own building on Riverside Drive. That 2,000-square-foot gallery dropped its commission charge about a year ago and allowed artists to show their art for free.
"The gallery will close, but our commitment to the arts will continue," said Pivot/Print spokeswoman Jenn Rarick, adding that the firms would like to restart the gallery at a later date.
The Stutz Artist Association is working to line up corporate sponsors to help cover the costs of leasing and maintaining the space. Building owner Turner Woodard donated $5,000 to the cause, locally based Prizm The Artists Supply Store donated supplies, and Tipton-based Marble Uniques donated the countertops for the kitchen.
Woodard, a local developer, has conference rooms in his second-floor offices and occasionally hosts events in an open area that houses part of his car collection, but the first-floor space will be the artists association's to run.