If you don’t kick things around with people, you’re out of it. Nobody, I always say, can be anybody without somebody around.”
-Physicist John Wheeler

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Birth of Another Sort is Still a Birth

Some readers may have followed my travails as I sought to acquire a new space for Art Cloth Studios last year. You can read some of the history in the posts below this one. Long story short, last May I began a search for a space because the church where Art Cloth Studios has been housed for ten years is slated to close sometime in the near future.

June: Found a great building but after three months it was clear the seller was a nut case when I couldn't pin him down on terms and he started showing me stripper pictures in his car. Yikes. Deal down the drain.

September: Found a great rock house right in the neighborhood. Foreclosure, so the price was right. Room for a wet studio. Lots of potential and general agreement that the space would work. The expense of grading the back yard haunted me at night, but hey. I needed this to work.

October 15: Why wouldn't the lights turn on for the inspection? A visit from City Public Service confirmed all copper had been stripped from the house by vandals - condensers, wiring - everything. Contacted the bank/owner and hoped for the best. Maybe this was a blessing. After all, it could lead to a new a/c unit and a total rewire at the bank's expense.

November 1: Ha ha. Still waiting.

November 10: Realtor advised pulling the plug on the deal. Down the drain it went.

November 11: Good friend Jean emailed me a new listing which happened to coincide with the same post from my realtor, Sylvia. I drove over to the house. Called Sylvia. Asked whether it was crazy to put an offer on a house when I'd never been inside. She said yes, and told me to stay put. When she arrived ten minutes later we checked out the interior and wrote a contract that afternoon. It was immediately accepted! Yippee!

The whole deal came down to the wire because of all the little headaches buying an old house entails. Finally set a date to close: December 31, 2011 at noon. Ironically enough, the same date and time I married my daughter's father in 1982. Zenna changed my life completely. I can only assume this project will do the same.

I'll keep this blog updated as the renovation unfolds. Leveling is accomplished. We discovered a 10,000 gallon brick cistern under the house. It's an old farmhouse in the middle of the city. Very cool. I kidded the worker guys about my indoor swimming pool! They didn't realize I meant it. I'd love to dip a ladder down into that cistern when it hits 104 degrees here in August and swim around. Maybe blind cave fish?

Finally! A Studio

Woodlawn Lake Park is two blocks from the new studio space. You can see the lighthouse, the spires of the landmark Little Flower Basilica, and the tower in downtown San Antonio, built for Hemisphere '68.

The city park has a biking and walking path, a restored gymnasium, a fishing pond, and a spring fed, free swimming pool.

The lot is .4 acres - huge for an inner city neighborhood - and this spot is only ten minutes from historic downtown San Antonio. We're right on a great bus line.

The views of the side yard and back lot show where the new 1000 square foot wet studio (fully air-conditioned) will be built.

The kitchen requires total renovation but will be updated and perfect for class lunches and evening potluck dinners. A sun room to the left of the kitchen already has a new saltillo tile floor completed last week, and wonderful light since it faces east.

This is the main living room downstairs. We'll be taking out walls to open the entire space for dry studio space - journaling, yoga, critiques and other workshops that don't require water.

The upstairs rooms will eventually become my new digs, or rooms for a group to rent during a workshop. Wouldn't it be great to get a group of friends together and rent the whole space for a week or weekend? Totally self-contained and so close to downtown you can walk on our famous Riverwalk in the evenings.

And now the renovation begins!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Taking the Future Into My Own Hands

This site has a very straightforward purpose.

The economy is in rough shape. Art programs are in jeopardy. Leaders find it impossible to agree. The world shifts uneasily as one dramatic need for change after another is acknowledged.

But through it all, the desire to create prevails.

This project is about community. If you believe making is important - because you have felt its power or because you have witnessed its power in the life of someone you know, then please join this creative community by sharing.

Become a founding member of the new Art Cloth Studios.

Many of you know me personally, will have been in a class with me, or will have heard me speak publicly. You know that my entire professional life has been about stewarding creative energy, because I believe witnessing personal creative energy changes lives.

It changed mine.

This isn’t a non-profit. It isn’t about writing endless applications or applying for block grants. Those activities are worthy, but they take time and a willingness to play by an institution’s rules. That’s not who I am. I am a teacher, a guide, an artist and a maker. The energy I feel for this lifetime is best spent sharing these gifts.

But I can’t do it alone. Please help me.

When the new Art Cloth Studios rises to its potential as a sacred space for shared making and meaning, it will be because it was a group effort.

Any donation - any size - will support the building acquisition fund. I am already halfway to the goal of $36,000. thanks to the generosity of the surface design and textile art community.

Be part of the momentum. When the new studio is established, there will always be a place there for you.

I’ve tried to keep it easy.

You can send me a check:
1134 West Agarita Avenue
San Antonio, Texas 78201

Or you can make a donation with Paypal.

If you have any questions or big ideas for the future, write to me.
And thank you in advance for supporting my vision. I hope it is one we will share in person soon.

The Back Story

The year 2000 marked the tenth birthday of the Surface Design Studio at the Southwest Craft Center, located here in San Antonio. The department was my idea, so the tenth anniversary was a sweet validation of my belief that surface design had a place in the school’s programming.

Not long after the ten-year anniversary celebration, I took the plunge, gave my notice, and launched myself as a freelance artist and teacher. It was scary, but I’d discovered the third floor of the Beacon Hill Presbyterian Church’s Michigan Building, and was already envisioning the independent studio I would create there. Complex Cloth was selling well, and the sales provided funds to renovate the church space. A dedicated, delightful group of students populated my workshops, and I’ve never looked back. Art Cloth Studios at the Beacon Hill Presbyterian Church is my pride and joy. Hundreds of lives have been touched, and sometimes changed by the classes, exhibitions and events we’ve offered.

Fast forward to 2011. Beacon Hill Presbyterian Church is still a presence in the neighborhood, and Art Cloth Studios is still filling workshops and touching lives. The distinctive Art Cloth Mastery Program enrolls and graduates students who agree to come to San Antonio (from all over the world) five weeks over a three year period. These students win awards, become teachers and facilitators, and continue the ripple of positive creative making into the larger world.

But two years ago Pastor Tom Heger was honest with me when I inquired about the financial health of the church. He guessed that Beacon Hill’s solvency would last another two or three years at best. Sadly, we could both see Art Cloth Studios in the Michigan Building closing.

Since then, I’ve scouted ideas, investigated possibilities and sought guidance – both at ground level and above. You know me, so you know that I believed when the right thing manifested I would recognize it.

I have found the right thing.