Art classes, studio moving down the street

By Wayne Bryan Originally Published March 28, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated March 27, 2013 at 9:56 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Curt Youngblood

Cheyenne Dryden, left, and Erin Holliday, executive director of Artchurch Studio, stand outside of the Dryden Pottery building in Hot Springs. Artchurch studio is moving from its current location into space in Dryden Pottery’s building.

Erin Holliday, executive director of the Artchurch Studio in Hot Springs, said even though it’s wonderful that the organization’s art school, gallery and creative studio change every day, it’s also a problem.

“One day, it’s a display space for our latest exhibition,” she said. “The next day, we push the rolling walls back, bring in tables, and we hold an art class. Then we clear the tables away for a dance class.”

Holliday said Artchurch has outgrown the location that gives the studio its name, the old Haven United Methodist Church, built in the 1890s. During the summer, the studio and its arts programs will leave the Cathedral Room, the former sanctuary with its 600 square feet of stained-glass windows and the 1910 Molar pipe organ, and move a block down Whittington Street to share space with Dryden Pottery.

“Programming will continue through June,” Holliday said. “The final events in the Cathedral Room will be a dance recital and a performance of CAST (the Children’s Authentic Shakespearean Theater).”

During the summer, Artchurch will suspend its class and performance schedule to focus on renovations at the new location. Holliday said the nonprofit organization will reopen in the new location with a new name — Emergent Arts.

The new name comes from the co-founder of Artchurch, Terry Menefee, who started the nonprofit organization in 2008. In an interview when the art program began in the old church, she said she wanted “a working studio for emerging artists and collectors.” The phrase is also in the organization’s mission statement.

The move of the Artchurch organization came about, Holliday said, “when the planets aligned” for both Artchurch and Dryden Pottery.

“Terry and I were both getting a lot of requests for people who wanted to hold an event here,” she said. “People wanted to hold their parties, weddings and other events here; then there were bands and other performers saying they were planning events and wanted them to happen in this space.”

At the same time, the pottery company was talking to Hot Springs area artists who were looking for studio space, Cheyenne Dryden said.

“The space at Dryden is so close,” Holliday said as she walked from Artchurch to Dryden Pottery in two minutes. “We want to stay in the Whittington Avenue area that includes the homes and studios of many artists and their students. We also want to continue to participate in the Gallery Walk.”

“The Hot Springs Gallery Walks are held on the first Friday evening of each month. The art galleries in the downtown district stay open until 9 p.m. and often offer music and complimentary refreshments to the tourists and local residents who stop in to see, and perhaps purchase, the latest art on display.”

Dryden Pottery has operated in Hot Springs since 1957. Begun by A. James Dryden, a successful potter from Kansas, the operation relocated to Whittington Avenue.

Cheyenne Dryden, a third-generation Dryden potter, said Emergent Arts will move into the large pottery building, including the business’s original storefront.

“It will be about 4,000 square feet of space that has really been unused for the past 25 years,” he said. “This is a partnership that I think will work for us and the arts organization. We will be able to piggyback on each other’s events.”

The area that will become a gallery space for the art group is now filled with a variety of items, from an old manual cash register to used motorcycles. A larger space behind what will become the gallery will include space for performance art, such as dance classes and artist studios.

The space that will house Emergent Arts connects to the mold-casting room, then to the potter’s wheels where the company makes its collectible ceramics.

“I hope we can add some energy to the building, bringing more people in,” Holliday said. “In addition, we will be able to offer ceramics classes.”

She said she expects all the art classes to evolve with the move to a larger location.

“We can get messier and not have to clean up and put away every day,” said Holliday, who is a sculptor. “We can do more long-range projects.”

The group has launched a campaign to raise funds and public awareness for the organization.

The group created the Square Foot Fund to seek community support for the move. Through the campaign, the arts group is asking community members to sponsor a square foot of the new renovation for $10.

For more information about the organization or the move, contact Holliday at artchurch@gmail.com, or call (501) 655-0835.

Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

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