What was once Lee’s Jewelers at 526 Fifth St. in Eureka has been transformed. In place of jewelry cases and browsing customers is Eureka Studio Arts, a teaching studio/exhibition space co-founded by local artists Micki Flatmo and Linda Mitchell. They hope it will become a place where established artists and students of all ages can come together to teach and learn about the visual arts.
The school's December opening marks the culmination of a project that began 10 years ago, born partly out of a need for space. Flatmo and Mitchell have taught painting classes for years in their small, private studios, but demand and limited space led to waiting lists. As they started to explore the possibility of a larger, shared teaching space, they kept hearing that other teaching artists had similar needs. In response, Flatmo and Mitchell expanded their idea and created Eureka Studio Arts, hoping it will become a community arts destination. "It's time to just step up and say we can do this -- and we also just think it'll be fun!" Flatmo said.
"We're really happy to give artists teaching jobs," said Mitchell. Flatmo explained that artists can usually only get a handful of students into their studios, limiting the amount of money they can make per class. The spacious Studio Arts building will enable class sizes of 15-20 students, and that means more money for the teaching artists and greater availability of classes for students.
It wasn't just the need for space that spurred Flatmo and Mitchell to create Eureka Studio Arts. They also saw the teaching studio as a way to expand their own continuing education: instead of having to travel all over the country to take workshops with renowned artists, they would bring the artists to Humboldt. "We have such an unbelievable resource --the natural beauty of the area is extraordinary," Flatmo said, "so people from all over the world will want to come teach here."
With a fully formed vision for Studio Arts in mind, Flatmo and Mitchell set about finding just the right location. It wasn't easy. When 526 Fifth St. became available, they jumped at the opportunity. "We liked it because it was funky," said Mitchell -- and the price was right. But the building needed some serious TLC. As anyone who has ever remodeled a kitchen, let alone renovated an entire building, will tell you, things don't always go as planned. When asked if the renovations went smoothly, Flatmo and Mitchell, both in paint-spattered, drywall-dusted clothes, laughed the laugh of people trying not to cry. The renovation took twice as long (and was twice as expensive) as they anticipated. They had to delay their opening, originally scheduled for November. But thanks to the help and support of many relatives and friends (and one big painting party) there is light at the end of the tunnel, and the team's enthusiasm remains high.
Its founders plan to have Studio Arts offer ongoing classes on different aspects of drawing and painting, as well as shorter seminars and workshops on different subjects and mediums. Some classes are already scheduled through May. "We'll have places for life drawing to be done, painting to be done," Flatmo explained. There are also plans in the works for youth programs. Mitchell and Flatmo hope the school helps foster a sense of community among the artists teaching the courses. They also want the school to serve as a centralized resource for area students -- a place where students can come to take a wide variety of visual art classes or, if the class they want is not offered, find out where they can take it.
As Mitchell and Flatmo currently envision it, each month will begin with an instructors' exhibition introducing prospective students and the general public to the current instructors' works. But ultimately, they are open to letting the community dictate the direction Studio Arts takes. "We'll find out what it is that people really want from us," said Flatmo, and they expect that the school will take on a life of its own. In broad strokes, Mitchell imagines the space, "full of people, full of life, full of art," and Flatmo heartily agrees.
Eureka Studio Arts will have its grand opening in conjunction with Arts! Alive on Dec. 1. Artists Gus Clark, Judy Evenson, Joan Gold, Micki Flatmo, Linda Mitchell, Kathy O'Leary, Rachel Schlueter and Stock Schlueter will exhibit work and be on hand to talk about upcoming classes and workshops they have scheduled at the studio. The opening will also feature a painting demonstration by Gus Clark. For more information, contact Eureka Studio Arts at 707-440-9027 or online at http://eurekastudioarts.com