Nov 12, 201305:52 PMPoint of View
Con Artist Collective Rethinks Community and Shared Space
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As Brian Shevlin, founder of Con Artist Collective, and Con Artist members were considering possibilities and sketching designs for an eventual expansion from their basement flat into the storefront above, news arrived that the space would be available much sooner than they expected. This kicked the planning phase into high gear, intensifying Shevlin’s relationship with the local hardware store and focusing the diverse talents of Con Artist members. The collective’s first act in the new space was to hang a neon “Yaay” in the window, a popular and well-liked piece from their earlier space, and a hint to passers-by in the know that change was coming. The next step was to prepare the storefront gallery for the artists by hanging a curtain of raw canvas, behind which the work of transforming the remnants of a beauty salon into a collaborative workspace soon began. With most of the construction on the upper level now finished, the collective celebrated a soft opening, complete with pig roast, in late October and opened their renovated space for public viewing on the first day of November.
Courtesy Con Artist
Beyond the gallery and the display case of books, zines, printed tees, and other original member work for sale, the multi-use space expands into a large open hall, it’s sense of depth amplified by a bright red loft that extends to a row of lockers and a staircase to the patio in back, and to the painting studio below. The loft supports computer stations above and harbors quiet benches below. Members’ work hangs on brick walls throughout. Along the opposite wall, high tables on rollers are available for individual users or groups, or fold up to create more floor space. In the rear sits a rolling cork-lined cube for meetings, recording or additional dust-free drying space. “One of my favorite words has always been modular,” says Shevlin, who organized his first collective 15 years ago. “We like when things can change and become something else.” Multi-functionality is one key to meet the spatial needs of diverse creative people and the range of work they produce. Access to equipment and a sense of community are others.
Courtesy Con Artist